Only weeks old and wrecked by vandals

Amble Welfare
Amble Welfare

VANDALS have left a new skate-boarding park strewn with litter and graffiti, just weeks after it opened.

Amble mayor Leslie Bilboe said he was appalled to learn about the damage done to the Welfare, describing the area as ‘looking like a tip’.

It was only last month that the facility – known as Amble Community Extreme Sports (Aces) Park – was officially unveiled, following years of campaigning by local youngsters, who were backed by Coquet Youth Team and Amble Development Trust.

The scheme secured an £80,000 grant from the former Alnwick District Council in 2009, followed by nearly £100,000 of funding a year later from the Big Lottery Fund.

But by the end of last week, scores of empty bottles, cans and sweet wrappers had been left scattered across the area, while a shelter was covered in spray-paint.

It has prompted a furious response from town councillors, who recently spearheaded a social respect campaign called Pride in Amble.

Coun Bilboe said: “I was appalled to see what the young people had done in such a short space of time, having been open only for a few weeks. The kids who wanted the park said it was the best thing since sliced bread – now look at it.

“The development trust worked very hard in raising the thousands of pounds needed to get the skate park up and running and now it looks like a tip. Who do they think is going to keep paying for its upkeep and to put right the vandalism?

“If it wasn’t for a local resident going in there and picking up litter, it would be up to your eyes.

“The trust doesn’t have a bottomless purse and the time will come when they could say enough is enough and close it. The young people asked for this park and now they have it. Look after it or lose it.”

Amble Development Trust chairman Terry Broughton said he would be reporting the damage and litter to the police.

“There are good kids in Amble who spent a lot of time and effort getting this project off the ground and they are not the ones doing the damage,” he said. “It’s a lack of respect for the hard work of others, many of whom are volunteers.

“It’s a shame when all this good work goes down the pan.”

Acting Inspector Graham Vickers said that in the first two weeks of the skate park opening, alcohol was confiscated, a man was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, another was issued with a fixed penalty and a summons was sent to one person for not acting on a direction to leave order.

But he added that alcohol-related problems had been reduced and police were given names of two youths believed to be responsible for the graffiti.

He said: “Police officers will continue to target the area and take positive action against any one causing anti-social behaviour to ensure that this remains a positive place for young people to use and enjoy.”