From Phil Howitt
Re: the article 'Littering the Hebden Water' - This is not a new problem but one that seems to have accelerated this year. Walk down to Salem Fields on any fine weekend evening and you'll find at least one open fire, either somewhere on the cricket or archery field, or down by the river. This isn't so much a dumping issue as an issue of vandals being prepared to drag often heavy objects a considerable distance in order to burn them.
Last weekend was no exception - on Friday there were separate fires on the river bank and a sofa had been set alight behind the cricket pavilion in a space which had been originally set aside for children's games on the Saturday Fun Day - we found charred sofa springs and broken glass - the site was about 5 yards from a previous firepit.
This year the cricket and archery club have had two rollers pushed into the river, a drystone wall section (used as a sightscreen) demolished, attempted break-ins to the pavilion, a fence used as firewood once and demolished twice since repair. I'd say there have also been around ten fires at separate locations. This is not to mention 'minor' issues such as broken bottles, graffiti and damage to playing areas.
the cricketers and archers spend a lot of time repairing damage both on and off the fields, but it often does seem like a losing battle. I would urge anyone witnessing anything of this nature to inform the police - they are aware of the problem.
One last thing - one of the many items dumped at the ground last Friday night was a mosaic, which was presumably discarded when it was found not to be burnable.
If this belongs to anyone please contact me.
From Graham Barker
I haven't been aware of the most recent Salem river dumping and vandalism problem until now, but I live on Spring Grove and twice in the past fortnight I've seen a handful of boys - ages about 13-15 - walking towards the bridge between 10 and 11 pm, carrying wooden pallets. A neighbour who has trouble sleeping has seen exactly the same activity at two o'clock in the morning.
This isn't enough to connect these lads with Salem, but the possibility - probability? - is there.
Whatever they're doing, these are children. They're out very late. They have parents. Do those parents not know or care what their children are up to?
From Phil Howitt
Bit depressing to be adding to this thread again so soon, but...
One of the Hebden cricket team cleared around 50 youths off the Salem cricket fields at around 10.30 on Friday night, appealing to their better natures since we had a memorial match the next day for Josh Phillips, a club member who died tragically in November.
On Saturday morning we found that the door to the clubhouse had been kicked down, someone had urinated and graffitid in our kitchen area, with other stuff strewn around the hut. Plus... broken glass on the pitch, the gate from the river walkway into the ground removed (presumably burnt), a petrol can (which had been full) found on the other side of the river.
The police did come out to the scene on the day after, but it appears they can do little tangible other than log incidents and act if there are a significant number reported. That's why I'd urge people to report any fires etc in the area, either on the playing fields or down by the river.
In an different world, the cricket club would have the human resources to patrol the ground at night, or the financial resources to build an impregnable fence. But that's not realistic, and personally I'd rather that this beautiful space was used responsibly by a range of people than exclusively by a few. The natural course of events at the moment seems to be that the club eventually is unable to finance the repairs that need to be carried out on a weekly basis, the field becomes unmaintained, and then developers start sniffing around. Is this what our community wants?
I doubt that any of the perpetrators of this now-weekly trouble are reading this thread, but their parents might be...
From Richard Dalby
Thanks for updating on this situation Phil.
Following your initial posting, and hearing about Josh's memorial match at the weekend, I went down to the cricket pitch / archery ground on Thursday to clear the area of litter.
I also noticed that one of the fire pit areas (directly beaneath a tree) sported a particuarly large amount of discarded beer/lager cans and bottles.
It must be totally demoralising for the cricket club to be repeatedly vandalised. It sounds like this vandalism takes place most weekends, and surely there have been enough reports by now for the Police to drop by on their rounds.
From Andi M
Phil, I wonder if they are the same bunch of youths - a gang of around 8 - mostly girls, who from 10.30pm onwards on Friday treated the neighbourhood to a drunken fight at Nutclough which continued for almost an hour. Apart from the foul language, screeching and smashing of bottles, they managed to cause traffic chaos as they stumbled around in the middle of Keighley Road, throwing punches at one another.
Funnily enough the name Charlotte cropped up again (see Joseph's posting in anti-social behaviour) - I wonder if it's the same person?!
They were truly obnoxious and only moved on once the police arrived after receiving a number of complaints.
From Gary Rathbone
Phil, There is no excuse for vandalism or crime. This is an appalling situation which needs to be resolved. However, why do you think this is happening? Obviously, its not a grudge against the cricket club or the archers?
Graham, you're quire right to be concerned. Not only are these young people potentially causing damage, but they are also making themselves vulnerable.
Phil (again), Why do you think 50 youths were congregating on the Salem cricket fields on a Friday night? Have they no where else to go? Again, there is no excuse for vandalism. But is the productive response to build fences and employ a security guard?
Richard, Unfortunately, I believe the police no longer have 'rounds', but are generally reactive.
Andi, I live very near Nutclough and was unaware of any of this happening. However I did hear some minor noise.
So people, lots of 'community' issues, any 'community' solutions?
See Hebweb News:
Hebden Bridge Cricket Club vandalised! (June 2005)