'Wanton destruction' - Park to be locked after trees used for bonfire

Hellesdon's Mountfield Park will be locked at 8pm for the foreseeable future

Hellesdon's Mountfield Park will be locked at 8pm for the foreseeable future after fires were set on Sunday, April 25 - Credit: Hellesdon Parish Council

A community park will now be locked at dusk after trees and the stakes supporting them were ripped up and used as bonfire fuel just outside of Norwich.

Hellesdon Parish Council announced its decision to close Mountfield Park from 8pm-8am Monday to Saturdays and until 9am on Sundays on April 26 after a "dozen" trees of varying ages were uprooted and their stakes set alight in an act of "wanton destruction" the night before.

Parish clerk Natasha Carver and Broadland district councillor Shelagh Gurney visited the site this morning along with the parish's groundsman and a police officer.

Fires at Hellesdon's Mountfield Park

Hellesdon's Mountfield Park will be locked at 8pm for the foreseeable future after fires were set on Sunday, April 25 using stakes from newly planted trees - Credit: Hellesdon Parish Council

Ms Carver said the decision to close the park at night was a big "shame" for dog walkers but necessary given the circumstances.

"For over a year now the park has been open 24 hours a day. We did that for the benefit of the community during the pandemic, and also because it's a useful cut-through", she said.

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"People have really come to rely on it, so it's a shame that we're having to lock it shut on an evening. 

"We'd rather not have to do it but we're making the decision based on advice from police.

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"It's really quite sad because one of the trees that has been destroyed was mature and well-established.

"The park will still be open during the day for everyone."

Mountfield Park in Hellesdon, which is currently closed. Picture: David Hannant

Mountfield Park in Hellesdon - Credit: Archant

Ms Carver added that the park would be unlocked at night again only when it was deemed "suitable".

Mrs Gurney, who represents Hellesdon North West, said people in the area seemed "intolerant" of late.

"First we had all the graffiti last week, and now this", she said.

"It's just an act of wanton destruction and it's heart-breaking.

Shelagh Gurney. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Shelagh Gurney said she was 'heart-broken' by the wanton destruction at the park - Credit: Archant

"The Broadland Tree Wardens have tried so hard to improve the area and create a woodland, with one lady in particular putting in a great deal of effort over the last year.

"But now about a dozen trees, their supports and stakes have been ripped up and thrown on a bonfire. 

"It's incredibly frustrating for the people of Hellesdon because the actions of a small group have spoiled things for everyone else."

Norfolk Constabulary confirmed it was investigating the criminal damage, which is thought to have happened overnight between Sunday and Monday.

Anyone with information should contact PC Felix Woodcock on 101 quoting crime reference number 36/27424/21.

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