Crime-plagued Wolverhampton playground given six months for trouble to be tackled
A playground plagued by crime and anti-social behaviour has been give a six-month probation period to see if the trouble can be wiped out.
Residents living on the Duke Park Estate in Bilston had presented a 85-name petition to Wolverhampton City Council asking for it to be removed completely.
But council workers said they are instead going to work with the police to try and stamp out the problems over the next six months before deciding whether or not it should stay.
The park equipment was brought in a year ago and ever since then residents say they have endured '12 months of harassment and distress'.
The petition was presented to the council last Friday. There was an initial recommendation for a 12-month probation period but, after hearing the extent of residents' distress, the decision was made to go for six months.
Matthew Williams, who lives on the estate, handed in the petition before outlining it to council bosses.
He said: "We have suffered 12 months of harassment and distress because of the behaviour of young people on this park.
"They are drinking, shouting, setting fire to vehicles, drawing pornographic imagery on children's play equipment and riding motor bikes just a few yards away from our homes.
"I think calling this anti-social behaviour isn't an accurate description, it is criminal behaviour.
"The park simply has to go, there was no trouble there before and since it has been built we have had nothing but trouble."
However, despite the petition stating that residents want the park completely removed, councillors present at the meeting suggested they wouldn't rush into removing the facility.
Councillor Elias Mattu said: "The important thing here is not to rush into removing a facility, because once it is gone it doesn't come back.
"There are areas that are crying out for something like this and to remove it straight away would be the wrong choice.
"I agree that we have to address the issue but I don't think just removing the play area would do that.
"We need to work to reduce the anti-social behaviour, by working with the police and other authorities and getting to the root cause."
This was echoed by Bilston councillor Stephen Simkins who lives in a nearby estate and said: "If we get rid of the park that is only pushing the problem further away, not resolving it."
Paul Coles, senior technical manager for Barratt Homes West Midlands, said: "We are pleased that Wolverhampton City Council and the police are moving to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour.
"The play area was installed as part of our agreement with the council to provide local facilities for the benefit of the community.
"As specified by the planning authority, the equipment has been designed for youngsters up to the age of eight."
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