July 1, 2022 6.00 pm This story is over 16 months old

‘Give kids more to do than graffiti and burning things’

Teenagers’ boredom has led to problems in a nature reserve

A lack of entertainment is driving young people to spend their spare time defacing a nature reserve, a Lincoln councillor has claimed.

Councillor Martin Christopher wants to see more opportunities for teenagers who end up causing problems in Lincoln’s Greetwell Hollow Nature Reserve.

He’s scrubbed off plenty of graffiti – some of it Nazi-inspired – while other volunteers have cleaned up the remains of burned items.

He wants to see developers who profit from new housing estates investing in the communities.

We joined him for litter-pick around the former quarry, finding disused fire pits, charred items, graffiti messages, and piles of sweets wrappers.

Youths have been starting fires in the hollow | Photo: LDRS

“I completely understand why kids are doing this – I got up to no good when I was that age as well.

“I don’t condone it, but what do we expect when there’s nothing else for them to do?” Councillor Christopher said.

“Greetwell Hollow is a real gem, but it’s not being well-treated because the only other place for kids to hang out is McDonald’s.

“Developers have been building homes around the Carlton Centre for 20 years, yet they’ve hardly put anything in for the community. And they’re not done yet.

“My dream is to see activities run in the Hollow – whether for teenagers, people with substance abuse problems, or other groups – which would give them something really positive and make them value the area.

“It would be ideal for bike tracks or climbing events.”

Anti-semitic graffiti daubed on Greetwell Hollow Nature Reserve, Lincoln | Photo: Councillor Martin Christopher

In recent weeks, there have been spraypainted swastikas and messages encouraging people to jump off a cliff.

Volunteers who keep the nature reserve clean have also found pupils burning the school books they no longer need.

“Unfortunately, one girl did a very bad job of it, and a volunteer was able to hand the remains to a PCSO who had a chat with her,” Councillor Christopher said.

“But with it being so hot and dry this time of year, it’s not safe to be lighting fires in woodland at all.

Volunteers have found burned school books in the nature reserve | Photo: LDRS

“All of this is happening because kids are bored – if they had something to do, the area would be better for people to enjoy.”

The site is owned by the Church of England, meaning the city and county council have limited say in the management of it.

In response to recent vandalism, a spokesperson for the Church Commissioners for England said: “We are disappointed to learn of the graffiti and anti-social behaviour observed on privately owned land.

“We are working with our managing agent to provide a proper long-term solution to this problem.”