“Determined” vandals would still have caused damage in Boston’s Central Park even if the gates were locked, a leading councillor has said.
Councillor Claire Rylott, the portfolio holder for parks and opens spaces at Boston Borough Council says closing the park at night would be letting the minority who want to ruin the town “win”.
It follows a petition being set up calling for the park to be made secure at night after staff found 30 birds missing and others killed by exhaustion and distress following vandalism and theft on Thursday.
The petition, signed by more than 140 people at the time of publication, was started on change.org by user “Maximus Bedford” and calls on Boston Borough Council to “Lock Boston Town Park gates at night”.
Maximus says the decision to leave the gates open has led to an increase in street drinking, anti-social behaviour and urinating and defecating.
“Many people now avoid the park because of this,” they say.
“All we want is to get the council to lock the gates at night to make the park secure and safe from all the behaviour and damage being caused. It’s our park and we want to enjoy it and look after it.”
However, Councillor Rylott said the park wasn’t locked so people could enjoy it all the time and said she believed the most recent crime would have taken place anyway.
“In the past they have climbed the walls to get into the park,” she said.
“People have gone in there and because the gates were locked they have probably done more damage than when the gates were opened because people could see them.
“This was a mindless, deliberate and determined act and closing the gates I don’t think would have stopped it.”
She said vandalism happened “everywhere”, not just in the park, and pointed to recent reports of residents’ decorative pumpkins being smashed over Halloween.
Councillor Rylott pointed to a national rise in crime, and said parks in other towns and cities, such as Lincoln, or Hyde Park, in London, weren’t locked.
She added the council were doing their part to make the town a better place to be, and had last year installed an extra CCTV camera in the park.
She also called on residents to do their part and be more vigilant, including coming forward to report any incidents they witnessed.
She urged people to be more positive and pro-active in promoting the town, pointing to recent good news such as the five recent In-Bloom awards which had been won.
She said a negative image put professionals off coming to the town and spoilt the hard work of those aiming to improve it.
A Boston Borough Council spokesman has confirmed CCTV footage has come back as inconclusive and cannot be used to help catch the culprits.
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