New benches in Stevenage community garden vandalised within 24 hours of being installed

PUBLISHED: 08:30 19 June 2018

New benches at The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage have been vandalised. Picture: Catherine Lofthouse.

New benches at The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage have been vandalised. Picture: Catherine Lofthouse.

Archant

Volunteers were horrified to discover new benches in a community garden had been vandalised less than a day after they were installed.

New benches at The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage have been vandalised. Picture: Catherine Lofthouse.New benches at The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage have been vandalised. Picture: Catherine Lofthouse.

New seating costing £2,000 arrived at The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage last Thursday, but by Friday names had been carved into it and a rude picture burnt into the surface of a picnic bench.

Volunteer Joanne House is behind the community taking over the care of the garden two years ago, after the space had fallen into disrepair and could no longer be used.

It had previously been maintained by St Nicholas and Martins Wood Children’s Centre, which used it for various activity programmes.

The grass had become overgrown, the area was covered in litter, the wooden structures had been vandalised and young adults were using it as a place to drink and smoke.

New benches at The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage have been vandalised. Picture: Catherine Lofthouse.New benches at The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage have been vandalised. Picture: Catherine Lofthouse.

Joanne set up an action group – Friends of The Oval Community Garden – and the green space was revamped and reopened in October last year.

Joanne, a teaching assistant and mother-of-two, said: “I was so saddened to see our new furniture had been damaged less than 24 hours after it was installed.

“I put many hours into the garden. It’s a tough juggling act working, being a mum and taking care of the garden. When things like this happen, I want to give up.

“However, I think the community in The Oval area deserve a pleasant outdoor space and that keeps me going.”

Mother-of-two Catherine Lofthouse, another garden volunteer, said: “The children at our monthly outdoor playgroup didn’t even have the chance to see the new benches in situ before the vandalism took place.

“This is meant to be a space for all to enjoy, not for a few mindless individuals to destroy on a whim.

“I hope whoever did this realises the error of their ways and thinks of others instead of themselves in future.”

She added: “It’s particularly sad after Joanne and her helpers have spent two years working hard on the garden to bring it back into use and the new furniture was meant to mark the fresh start for our green space.”

The garden is entirely cared for by volunteers from the local community. To volunteer, email ovalcommunitygarden@gmail.com.

Anyone with information about the vandalism can call Hertfordshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number CRI/41/MB99/1862018.

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