Heartbreak for volunteers as vandals target popular Rhyl park


Matt Jones

A POPULAR Rhyl park has become a hotspot for vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Denbighshire Council has removed a full-time and part-time warden from the Botanical Gardens and volunteers say ten years of work to transform the park could be undone.

Noreen Stevenson, chairperson of The Supporters of the Botanical Gardens, said: “Users of the park and this association have seen within two weeks the number of young people triple and a major increase in vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
“Our volunteers have faced harassment and have had to call the police on two occasions something we have only previously had to do once in the 10 years we have worked in the park.”

In 2003, when the association became involved in running the park, it was derelict and has since been revived by volunteers.

Noreen said: “Today it is a little haven in Rhyl appreciated not only by residents of Rhyl but by visitors.

“We have more than 700 letters of protest and some of these letters are from visitors as far away as Merseyside, Manchester and the Midlands.

“The Botanical Gardens and the Coronation Playing fields are the only designated parkland of any substantial size on the coastal strip.

“It will soon be too late to correct the damage that will have been done to the park and its facilities but more importantly to the moral and dedication of our volunteers.”

All profits are put back into the park and its facilities and so far funding of more than £150,000, not available to local authorities, has been secured by the association to improve the park, which has an annual open day will be in August.

Noreen added: “If volunteers are allowed to believe their efforts are in vain or they object to the harassment and anti-social behaviour then we are in danger of losing them.

“All we ask is that the gardens are maintained to their current standard of excellence.

“Denbighshire are asked to reconsider what this Association and so many of the people using the park consider to have been a wrong and very short sighted decision.”

A spokesman for Denbighshire Council said: “We understand concerns raised by members but in order to make best use of limited resources, we are looking at alternative more cost-effective ways of delivering the maintenance service at Botanical Gardens.

“Up until recently we employed a full time gardener, a full time and part time warden whose duties involved litter picking, collecting fees for the facilities and also a form of security when they are on site although this is not within our remit.

“Neither members of staff are at risk of losing their jobs but will be deployed in the wider Rhyl area. Now we will have one full time dedicated gardener to maintain the grounds.

We have appointed a yard man in our operational depot next door and part of his duties will to visit the Gardens three times per day to collect and monitor the litter.

“In addition, a supervisor will monitor the site at regular intervals during the day and similar arrangements will be in place for weekends. We have discussed the issue of anti-social behaviour with our colleagues in CCTV and they will increase the camera patrols each day and at weekends.

“We have asked the Com-munity Police Team to have more of a presence on site. We intend to monitor the situation over the coming weeks and to engage with the group so we reach a compromise that satisfies both parties.”

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