On 8 June I took a decision to temporarily close the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) because when my staff were attempting to lock the facility in the evening they were encountering serious abuse from a group of youths. Since this abuse was becoming a daily issue and, given the duty of care that I have to the staff, then it became necessary for me to remove my staff from that situation. Hence the closure.
Since then the Town Council has been working with the police and the relevant school to bring pressure to bear on the miscreants. The public have been most helpful in reporting incidents and the names of the youths to the police which has enabled them to escalate their actions and interact with the families of the youths. Whilst we are not clear of incidents yet we seem to have been successful in driving them away from Fore Street park which they were using as a near permanent base.
This has also given the Council time to put our own mitigation measures in place. By early next week my staff will have received body cameras and will be familiarising themselves with how they operate. In addition, Councillors have decided to add three fixed CCTV cameras, which will give near total coverage of the key areas of the park. When these are in place (3-4 weeks) Fore Street Park will be the most heavily surveilanced area in Chudleigh. Personally, that is a source of some regret as I honestly believe that it should not be necessary in a town of this size but needs must.
Given the impact that the police have had on the group of youths in question and the additional security measures the Council have put in place I feel that the time is right to re-open the MUGA for community use. It is my intention to do this with effect from Saturday 21 July, the start of the school summer holidays.
We would greatly value continuing feedback from residents regarding any issues or problems at Fore Street Park and, indeed, elsewhere in the town.