Rejuvenation of Longdale Park in Thorpe Marriott credited with cutting anti-social behaviour

The new Longdale Park 3G pitch at Thorpe Marriott where the Drayton under 11's celebrated the openin

The new Longdale Park 3G pitch at Thorpe Marriott where the Drayton under 11's celebrated the opening.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The rejuvenation of a 'derelict' community park has been credited with cutting anti-social behaviour and doubling the number of youngsters playing for their local football team.

An all-weather football pitch at Longdale Park in Thorpe Marriott was officially opened on Friday evening, the culmination of a 10 year vision to bring the area back into community use.

It received a £20,000 Sports Foundation grant, as well as funding from Broadland Council and the New Homes Bonus.

Les Samuels, who lives nearby, said residents previously suffered revving engines and loud music from young people after midnight.

He said: 'Originally it was just a ruined, decrepit play park that was not safe. It was not used. The play park was installed and it is just nice to hear children playing here.

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'The thing we have noticed the most is the anti-social behaviour. Now it has been developed, the anti-social behaviour has significantly reduced.'

Taverham PCSO Adam Knights said: 'We are not getting any large groups gathering on Friday and Saturday evenings. It's made the impact that we wanted.'

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Hilary Kisby, chairman of Drayton Parish Council, praised the transformation as a team effort.

She said: 'If you had seen it 10 years ago, it was a derelict area.

'The pavilion was hardly used at all. The windows were boarded up and kids would get on the roof. Bottles and cans were thrown on the tennis court and it was not used.

'The anti-social behaviour has all gone. The youngsters, because they use it, take a pride in it.'

Colin Gamson, chairman of Drayton Youth Football Club, said the pitch meant children could train through the winter, and the number of teams had increased from six or seven last year to 13 now.

Alan Arber, administrator of Longdale Park who oversaw the project said: 'The good thing is it has brought the community together. We have very little anti-social behaviour. The biggest praise we have was people said they feel it is part of the community now.'

He added that weekly bookings for the pitch have risen from 12-16 a week last year to 45-50 now.

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