A fresh spate of vandalism and anti-social behaviour has further delayed major improvements to a popular play area in the Boyatt Wood neighbourhood, north of Eastleigh town centre.
The latest setback to the Lawn Road scheme means that work will not now resume until after Christmas with a likely delivery date now mid-February, rather than the planned pre-Christmas opening - assuming that no further wilful damage takes place.
With safety on-site the number one priority, the whole play area is now closed off until the work is complete. This includes the toddler play area.
The costs of remedying the ongoing vandalism are now well into five figures. At the beginning of this month foundation layers of the new safety surfacing were torn up before the rubber mulch had time to set, and a swing and climbing structure have also both been targeted. There have been a number of attempted break-ins and materials have been stolen from the site. The project has also been delayed by other factors, including supply chain problems and contractors being hit by COVID.
An on-site, night-time security presence, wearing body cameras to record any further criminal activity or antisocial behaviour, has been arranged by the Eastleigh Local Area Committee (ELAC), which is funding the play area improvements. The police have also been kept updated – and ELAC will make any evidence it gathers available to any prosecution. Anyone with any information is asked to share it with the police by calling 101 or via the Hampshire Constabulary website. The crime number for the latest incident is 44210493111.
The Chair of the Eastleigh Local Area Committee, Councillor Alex Bourne, said: “I know that the vast majority of residents in the Lawn Road neighbourhood, particularly those with children, will be as angry and as disappointed as the team who are working so hard to complete what will be a really wonderful play facility. We’re really sorry that this project has been further delayed, with more cost to local taxpayers. If anyone can help identify the few mindless individuals who are so intent on spoiling things, we’d urge them to contact the police.”