Anger as yobs target town’s beloved park

Head gardener Andrew Hopkins is angry and upset after plants and soil littered paths as flower beds have been vandalised only 24-hours after being planted
Head gardener Andrew Hopkins is angry and upset after plants and soil littered paths as flower beds have been vandalised only 24-hours after being planted

Wigan’s jewel-in-the crown green space has been targeted by yobs yet again.

Gardeners came in to work at Mesnes Park on Thursday morning to find flower beds torn up and trampled, while floral displays - which had only been planted the day before in the ornamental urns at the bottom of the pavilion steps - had been ripped up and thrown on the ground.

It was the latest in a long series of attacks on the much-loved Victorian destination which, sadly, have not abated since its extensive Lottery-funded makeover.

The pavilion itself has had windows broken and suffered a break-in several weeks ago.

And council staff regularly spend the first part of their day clearing up damage and litter before being able to do the gardening work they are paid to carry out.

A former Wigan mayor today said that something needed to be done.

Coun John Hilton said: “The park is beautiful. It is a real treasure which belongs to us all and it is a crying shame that some people can’t treat it with the respect it deserves.

“Yet again this week the gardeners have come in to find a mess, including some of the work they had done only the previous day completely undone.

“It’s an absolute disgrace. The gardeners are having to spend the first part of their day playing refuse-collector and carrying out repairs.

“It must have cost thousands of pounds over the last 12 months and this is money coming out of council funds and taxpayers’ pockets. Something has to be done.

“At night the park is somewhere where young people congregate and get drunk. And once they’ve had a skinful they don’t care what they are doing.

“There are cans and broken beer bottles everywhere and cleaning up is the first thing the gardeners do. Most people who go to the park during more sociable hours probably don’t realise what a mess is left over night because it has all been tidied up and repaired by then. There is CCTV but it doesn’t seem to be having much of a deterrent effect so far. Perhaps it’s pointing in the wrong direction.”

Paul Barton, assistant director of environmental services, said: “The park gardeners are shocked and upset by the acts of vandalism that have occurred in the Mesnes Park and are currently working to rectify the damage caused on Wednesday evening.

“The police have been advised of the situation and we continue to work with colleagues who manage CCTV coverage to identify ways to find the person responsible.”