A desperate plea has been made for parents in Burgess Hill to ‘step forward and take some responsibility’ after a concerning rise in antisocial behaviour in the town.
Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to Burgess Hill Cricket Club after its pavilion was broken into three times over the past week.
The club said it believed youngsters were responsible and the incidents have prompted calls from Burgess Hill Town Council for parents to help clamp down on the issue.
Councillor Pru Moore, leader of the council, said she had become ‘increasingly concerned’ with the rising level of antisocial behaviour in the town over the past six months.
She said as well as damage to the cricket pavilion a dog bin in the park had been broken three times. There has also been several reports of fires being lit deliberately at Bedelands Nature Reserve while the council spent several hundred pounds removing stencilled graffiti faces of Mr Bean and Austin Powers, sprayed on landmarks across the town last month.
“The football club has suffered, Bedelands has suffered and the town centre has suffered,” she said.
“I don’t think there is an excuse for destroying property, intimidating other people and making people’s lives hell. They have got the feeling they are untouchable.
“If we are going to put a stop to all this unpleasantness we need the parents’ help.”
Burgess Hill Cricket Club, in St Johns Park, saw two of its windows smashed and its bar ‘ransacked’ in the recent break-ins.
A spokesman for the club said: “We are angry and frustrated. St Johns Park is becoming very unpleasant.
“The bar was damaged and was ransacked. We lost an Ipad, a laptop and £500 worth of spirits, beer and wine.”
The club said in total more than £2,000 worth of damage had been caused.
“We let the local schools use our facilities and we coach in schools so we spend a lot of time working with the community and this is how we are repaid.”
It also called on the council to install better security measures in the area including CCTV and lighting.
Ben Toogood, of Mid Sussex District Council, which owns the pavilion building, said: “We are investigating additional security measures which will hopefully prevent further break-ins at the pavilion. We will also be working closely with our local partners to increase patrols in the area.”
Councillor Moore said the town council was exploring ways in which it could engage with young people but called on parents to help.
“They have difficulty finding a meeting place,” she said. “I would love to see them have their own cafe or meeting place.
“The police can only do some much. The parents have to step forward and take some responsibility for their children.
“It’s difficult, very difficult, but parents should be asking the questions like do you know who is involved in this? Are you involved in this?”
Police said four youths had been arrested in connection with the break-ins.
A spokesman said: “Two males and a female aged 17, 16 and 15 respectively from the Burgess Hill area and a 14 year old from Haywards Heath were taken to Crawley custody.
“Officers have increased patrols in the St Johns Park area of Burgess Hill due to anti-social behaviour and will be utilising dispersal powers for those causing disruption to the community.”
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