AN adventure playground in Falmouth is to be dismantled following sustained attacks by vandals who have set fires, wrecked fences and even strewn babies’ nappies around the area.
Almost as soon as the area at the Lighthouse Children’s Centre on The Beacon was opened in 2007, a “stash” of cannabis was found hidden and over the years there have been numerous incidents, but these have escalated in recent weeks.
As a result, the decision has been made to remove the play equipment and use the area for children’s nature activities. The demolition is expected to take place within the next two weeks.
Children’s centre development manager, Julie Pikesley, explained the original Wild Woods area had been created with the help of pupils from neighbouring Falmouth Primary School and then funding had been obtained to enable an adventure playground to be built.
This boasted tree houses, monkey bars, net hammocks and a stage area which was open to all children in the area in the evenings and at weekends, but not any longer.
“We found a stash of cannabis in the tree house in 2007 and that was our first experience,” said Mrs Pikesley.
“As the years have gone on, we have had various acts of mindless vandalism, but nothing to the extent we have experienced in the last few weeks.
“Fence panels have been continually broken for no reason so we lowered the fence so they could climb over it hoping that would prevent future attacks, but now it’s just random criminal damage.
“They have tried to set fire to the tree house on two occasions, but the most disturbing thing was the emptying of the nappy bins and the human excrement found in the area. It smells like a urinal on occasions and two weeks ago we found a large kitchen knife.
“With local authority budget cuts, we are not able to continually make the repairs and it has been down to our staff to clear it up and I don’t feel I’m in a position to do that anymore.
“I would not want to clean up that sort of mess myself so I’m not asking my staff to do it. As a result, we are going to have to remove the play equipment.”
Once the equipment has been removed, the fence will be lowered further so the area is less secluded and those using it are more visible.
The decision to deprive the children of the adventure playground was not taken lightly.
“We did consider our actions and if the children did not have other areas to play we may have thought again, but Kimberley Park is being developed and they have the play area on the Beacon green and the skateboard park at Dracaena, so they are not being left without resources,” said Mrs Pikesley.