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Paedophile fears lead to axing of new playground at Lydd's Banks Sports and Social Club on Romney Marsh

By Sam Lennon

Plans for a new playground for a sports club on Romney Marsh have been scrapped following fear of paedophiles.

A scheme to upgrade Lydd's Bank Sports and Social Club was dropped because, a report said, it "might attract the wrong type of men".

That phrase has been taken as referring to child molesters, but there was also concern of general anti-social types such as drug and alcohol abusers and child-on-child bullying.

Banks Sports and Social Club in Lydd
Banks Sports and Social Club in Lydd

The report for the club was by treasurer June Beaumont and was part of the wider Lydd Town Council Annual Report 2013-2014.

She wrote: "We were disappointed that our and the community wardens' plans to upgrade the sports and recreational facilities were vetoed by the police as it was thought it might attract the wrong type of men to the area."

Police have since made it clear that they never had the power to block or veto the scheme - only make recommendations.

Their opinion was the site was too isolated and might lead to incidents such as bullying between children.

This was read out at the annual town and parish meeting at the Guildhall.

June Beaumont of Banks Sports and Social Club
June Beaumont of Banks Sports and Social Club

The scheme was to develop disused tennis courts for a playground with a new tennis court, skate park and outside exercise area.

After the meeting, Ms Beaumont explained the plan had been to develop the site near the club's base at Dennes Lane.

But it had been suggested it was too isolated a site as it did not have properties overlooking it.

Ms Beaumont said: "The site was considered too much out of the way with no houses there so it was dropped.

"It is sad that we can't provide these facilities there but it is something you need to think about because paedophiles are everywhere."

A report said plans to upgrade Banks Sports and Social Club might "attract the wrong kind of men"
A report said plans to upgrade Banks Sports and Social Club might "attract the wrong kind of men"

Cllr Clive Goddard, as a Lydd ward member of Shepway District Council, was part of the working group trying to set up the playground.

He said after the meeting: "What the police want is for an open facility like this to be overlooked by properties, as The Rype playing field. It was felt this site was too isolated.

"The Banks is used by children but these are groups supervised by adults. This would have been a playground where children would have come and gone on their own.

"This could have also been a safeguard against general anti-social behaviour such as people sitting there abusing alcohol or drugs, not just to do with paedophiles.

"There was also a health and safety issue in that a child may be alone and injure himself and nobody knows he's there."

"I was disappointed that the police were against the project there, but I think in this day and age it was a sensible decision."

Cllr Clive Goddard said cancelling the plans was sensible
Cllr Clive Goddard said cancelling the plans was sensible

This recommendation was understood to have come from the a Lydd police forum meeting about 18 months ago, with the opinion offered by Sgt Jasmine Bloomfield.

A police spokesman said: "Having sought advice from a Kent Police crime prevention officer, Sgt Bloomfield gave the view that the Banks was not the best location for an upgraded sports and recreational area."

She has since said she gave the example of child-on-child bullying as one potential problem.

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