More vandalism at New Milton muga and anti-social behaviour on recreation ground sparks CCTV and police calls
VANDALS repeatedly targeting a New Milton sports facility sparked calls for improved CCTV coverage and more police presence.
Members at the town council amenities committee meeting were appalled to hear of more damage at the muga (multi-use games area) by the recreation ground, off Whitefield Road.
It occurred just days after it reopened following a lengthy closure for repairs to previous vandalism.
Estates and facilities manager Mark Jeffries said offenders this time had ripped away a specialist handrail which was “not cheap to replace”.
“We’ve made it safe temporarily, but it’s disappointing after only a few days of opening to have this happen again,” he said.
As reported in the A&T, the muga was closed for over two months from early June after equipment, fences and bins was damaged.
Repairs cost a total of about £15,500, including 135 hours of labour.
Cllr Steve Clarke suggested a CCTV unit run by a WiFi connection could be installed by the muga to deter potential offenders.
“If we’re continually paying several thousand pounds to repair these things, this could be relatively cheaper,” he said.
Cllr Clarke added trespassers were seen climbing on the roofs of the currently out of use ASBOC (Anti-social Branded Outcast Committee) Café building on the recreation ground and the neighbouring K.L. Uphill furnishings and upholsterers.
With both the ASBOC building and the muga out sight to the CCTV camera by the skate park, councillors agreed New Forest District Council should again be pressured to increase coverage.
A frustrated Cllr Valya Schooling demanded where the police were, although committee chair Cllr Geoff Blunden pointed out they had dealt with some offenders.
Cllr Helen Wallis-Dowling also defended officers, saying they were “doing a great job” despite their funding being “drastically cut” over several years.
But Cllr Schooling hit back: “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a town this size, with 27,000 residents, is policed properly even with cutbacks.
“They should be looking out particularly for anti-social behaviour.”
She also said that councillors should be able regularly to pass on residents’ crime concerns to police representatives.
Cllr Blunden pointed out local Sgt Kat Smith was due to attend the next full town council meeting on 4th October.
Although accepting issues with anti-social behaviour had worsened in New Milton, Cllr Steve Davies stressed New Milton was “not a den of inequity”.
He said: “I’m not happy with what’s been happening but, compared with some parts of Hampshire, this is still a nice safe place to live."