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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sunderland parks plagued by ongoing vandalism, straining council funding

A senior Sunderland cllr has urged the public to report incidents of vandalism after a spate of damage at play parks across Wearside.

At a council meeting this week ,it was revealed around nine play parks across the city have been hit by vandals, ranging from general damage to equipment being burned out.

As a result some equipment has been left unusable, prompting an appeal from one of Sunderland’s top politicians.

Cllr Claire Rowntree. Image: Facebook

Cllr Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, has labelled the vandalism as ‘mindless’ and urged the public to report incidents to the council.

The Hetton ward cllr, who also has responsibility for the council’s clean and green city portfolio, said the vandalism has a social cost and that the council has ‘limited funding’ to regularly repair and replace play parks.

Cllr Rowntree said: “Sadly we have recently seen a number of incidents of arson and vandalism across some of the city’s play parks.

“Play parks are a valuable asset for our communities, contributing to the health and wellbeing of residents and giving children somewhere to enjoy playing outside.

“But these acts of mindless vandalism and anti-social behaviour ruin this for everyone and we cannot continue to regularly repair and replace our play parks due to the limited funding available”.

Sunderland City Council has confirmed a list of play parks which have been affected in recent weeks, with locations spanning across the Coalfields area, Washington and West Sunderland.

The most serious incidents have included the swing units at a play park in Hetton being damaged by fire, as well as a similar incident at the Princess Anne Park in Washington.

The Keir Hardie Play Area in Houghton has also seen “general damage to kit” while other parks have seen damage to ‘wet pour’ surfacing.

This includes damage at Hetton Lyons Country Park play area, and play areas in Albany, Sulgrave, Sandhill, East Herrington and at Thorndale Road.

The issue was recently raised at the Coalfield Area Committee on Wednesday, 7 June, at City Hall, with council officers stating damage to play parks was a city-wide issue.

Cllrs agreed it was important to “empower” communities to be able to report incidents.

Cllr Rowntree, speaking after the meeting, added: “We are assessing the full extent of the damage and are asking members of the public to report any incidents of vandalism or anti-social behaviour as soon as they can, so we can respond quickly and ensure that the facilities can be enjoyed without disruption.”

Anyone who spots vandalism in parks and play areas can report it via Sunderland City Council’s  website at www.sunderland.gov.uk/report-asb

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