'Not acceptable' - Mum's anger after 'safe haven' park covered in glass

Laura Woods from Whitelands Play Park, with her two children.

Laura Woods from Whitelands Play Park, with her two children. - Credit: Alan Raymond Palmer

A Fakenham mum who has helped to re-establish her local play park said people are now avoiding the site after a rise in anti-social behaviour.

Laura Woods, community project leader for The Whitelands playpark in the market town, has seen a rise in littering, including smashed glass at the grounds, as she said a group of 20 teenagers have started to use the site for drinking in late October, into November, in turn, putting local families off visiting.

Two incidents have been reported to Norfolk Police. She has not ruled out looking into security cameras at the park which Fakenham Town Council has responsibility for.

The broken glass found at The Whitelands playpark in Fakenham.

The broken glass found at The Whitelands playpark in Fakenham. - Credit: Steph Nelson

Miss Woods, who helped to raise £8,000 to get new equipment in the park back in February 2019, said the park was seen as a safe haven for many during the lockdowns, but now is getting a name for the wrong reasons.

“We just want this to stop, it was such a haven in lockdown with the new equipment,” she said.

“We could not use it at the start of the first lockdown, but after a few months when we could, many people said to me, or left comments on the Facebook page saying, ‘this park saved us, this is our haven’.

“It seems now it has got a name for itself, for all the wrong reasons.

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“Now the majority of local parents are not going down there, as they do not want to go and clean up glass, or hoodies set alight.”

Laura Woods of Whitelands, Fakenham, accepting the Community Volunteer Award at an Annual Town Assem

Laura Woods of Whitelands, Fakenham, accepting the Community Volunteer Award at an Annual Town Assembly from town mayor, George Acheson. Picture: FAKENHAM TOWN COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Miss Woods and other local people have been going to the park to clean up after these incidents. Including a woman who found the glass bottle top in the grass.

These incidents are also stopping the park from future developments. The 39-year-old said there have currently been no reports of damage done to the equipment there, but said the worry it could is playing on her mind.

Despite this, Miss Wood just wants the littering to stop: “I feel frustrated that this is happening, we were all young once and wanted to hang out with our friends but coming to a park and smashing bottles and littering is not acceptable.

"Someone could end up seriously hurt.

"It just puts a downer on everything we are trying to achieve and it makes me feel unhappy. It’s a shame there isn’t somewhere in the town for the teenagers to go.”

Fakenham Town Council has been contacted for comment.

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