The owner of a village recreation ground has regretfully closed it to the public after she became fearful for her own safety.
Five Oaks recreation ground land owner Susan Hart has said that she was ‘disappointed’ to close the park near Hayes Wood Road after having to clear used condoms from her land.
“People were having sex in our drive. I was picking up condoms off swings. It’s disgusting.
“They also quite enjoyed putting them through the chicken wire in our fence.
“Once there was a tent in the field which was absolutely full of condoms.”
Mrs Hart said the misuse, went on for a year.
“A few times we couldn’t leave our drive because there were cars that had parked in the drive and field.
“One night a resident called and asked me to call the police because they were racing cars and doing U-turns in our drive and they were very abusive.
“We felt quite vulnerable. We said to the council we would be happy to keep the area open if they could close and lock it at night and increase litter picking and policing to protect me and my family but unfortunately that wasn’t possible.
“It reached a peak last month and I made a decision I don’t want to do this any more.
“We really wanted people to use it. It’s just a sign of the times which is really horrible because you imagine children running around but it’s really not that way. It’s not as it used to be, sadly.”
One neighbour who wished to remain anonymous said she felt for her neighbour: “It’s a great shame because there’s quite a lot of teenagers in this area and it’s really the only place they’ve got to play.
“I totally appreciate where she is coming from - I just wish there was another way.”
A former Billingshurst resident was also disheartened to see the closed area when he stopped at the location ‘for a nostalgic look at the field’.
“I always used to play there as a child,” he said.
“To my knowledge this field has been a swing and play area from certainly 1950 onwards,” he added.
Billingshurst Parish Council decided not to oppose the forfeiture of its lease to the land at the end of May.
A spokesperson said: “The parish council contacted the police and asked our litter wardens to make regular visits to pick up the litter.
“The landowner decided that they could no longer continue to lease the playing field to the parish council. The council decided not to oppose the forfeiture of the lease.”