Baby puts broken glass in his mouth as Godalming parks left in a mess

October 11, 2018
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Teenagers were seen taking tiles off a memorial and smashing bottles, and a baby was nearly injured by a piece of glass in his mouth while playing in a Godalming park.

Residents in the town said they are fed up and no longer feel safe letting their children play in parks. The town council has also spoken up to condemn the apparent rise in antisocial behaviour.

Mum-of-four Melissa Stretch, 31, from Farncombe said she was in Canon Bowrings Recreation Ground (the Chippy Park) with her partner and two children on the afternoon of September 28 when she saw her baby son put a piece of broken glass, about 1cm in length, in his mouth.

She said: “My now 10-month-old was crawling around the park area when he had put something in his mouth so I quickly got it out and realised it was glass. I am so glad he didn’t get hurt.

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“I just picked him up and looked down and saw loads of glass, picked the bits up I could see and I got up and walked out the park.”

Miss Stretch, who has three other children, aged three, 10 and 14, returned to the park on October 2 to take photos of the mess and pick up pieces of glass. She said she and a friend picked up two handfuls each.

She continued: “Me and my four children are always at the parks as we always play games or have picnics, running around barefoot.

“This (the antisocial behaviour) has been going on for a few years but it’s nowhere near as bad as it is now. It’s at the point where no one can walk round or play with or without shoes.

Broken glass on the ground at the Chippy Park on Sunday, October 2
(Image: Melissa Stretch)

“Why should children, adults, animals have to suffer in this way after people can’t clear up or use bins provided? The thing is, with the children out on the streets until God knows when, they have nothing to do or nowhere to go,” she said.

“The only way to protect the kids is to stay in, as parks are not safe anymore.”

Surrey Police confirmed it received two other reports of a group of 15 to 16-year-olds taking tiles off the Phillips Memorial, a Grade II-listed build in honour of Godalming resident Jack Phillips, who was a wireless operator aboard the Titanic, and smashing bottles at the park in Borough Road.

The reported criminal damage incident happened on September 30, at around 2.30pm to 3.30pm, a spokesman said.

Waverley Borough Council (WBC), which manages the parks in Godalming, said it is currently engaging with a contractor to make repairs to the memorial under guidelines set out by Historic England.

Town clerk Andy Jeffery spoke about the issue of antisocial behaviour: “Godalming Town Council is extremely disappointed in this thoughtless behaviour which is putting the community at risk, both people and animals. Godalming Town Council will support our colleagues at Waverley Borough Council in any way that we can.”

Drawing on conversations with residents and social media posts, Godalming town and Waverley borough councillor Paul Follows posted on Facebook on October 1 that there has been a “marked increase in glass/broken bottles” at local green spaces and “an actual or perceived increase in antisocial behaviour”.

He said broken glass was found in parks in Ockford and Aaron’s Hill and the Phillips Memorial Park in the town centre.

Cllr Follows, who represents Godalming Central and Ockford on WBC, encouraged residents to report all incidents of antisocial behaviour: “Parts of Godalming seem to be experiencing a spike in ASB over the last two weeks – with broken glass and damage to public spaces being the issues residents are finding most concerning.

“I would urge all residents to report these incidents to the Green Spaces team (who have been doing a great job) and the police so the problem is properly on their radar – and resources allocated to address the problem.

“I will be speaking to police about how we address the long term problems with ASB as there needs to be a balance of enforcement and proper engagement.”

More glass found at the Chippy Park on Sunday, October 2
(Image: Melissa Stretch)

In response to reports of broken glass in Godalming parks, a spokesman for WBC assured residents: “Waverley Borough Council does everything it can to keep our parks and open spaces in a tidy and safe condition. Our contractor Glendale do look out for glass and remove any they find as a part of their contractual duties.

“As most of the problems occur outside of working hours, we rely on the police to step up their patrols in hotspot areas. There is a small number of persistent offenders who seem to delight in causing problems, and all the council can do is repair the damage and clear up after them until the police can catch them.”

He added: “With regards to Phillips Memorial Ground, there is a dedicated park keeper for the site who litter picks, empties the bins and carries out his horticultural duties on a daily basis.

“The park keeper reports any occurrences of antisocial behaviour, vandalism, littering or graffiti and photographs and cleans up as soon as possible. We then report these to the police.”

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/baby-puts-broken-glass-mouth-15244871


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