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Vandalism is ruining my area
Graffiti on a bench
Graffiti on one of the new benches
Last updated: 17 September 2004 1639 BST
lineTeenager Fay Daniels is unhappy that a new public space project has been vandalised only a short time after it was unveiled to the public...
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Just six weeks on and Charlton King's new centrepiece project isn't exactly the pretty picture it was first unveiled as.

The centrepiece development, surrounding Church Place, Grange Field and Beeches park was officially opened on August 1st 2004 by Cheltenham mayor Robert Garnham, after months of gruelling work from a partnership of residents' group CK2000 along with Charlton Kings parish and Cheltenham Borough Council.

Occasion

A plaque marking the occasion was uncovered in front of crowds of eager residents who enjoyed a fete atmosphere and attractions including a stilt walker, bouncy castle, model balloons and barbecue. New paving and seating was put in place, trees and shrubs had been planted, new lighting was fitted, walls were painted terracotta and a mosaic water rill, designed by local school children, was also installed in a complete renovation of the once rundown looking area. The local youngsters also got their wish - a brand new skate park at Beeches.

Vandalised bench

All this was part of 'The Centrepiece Scheme' which was funded by a £500,000 grant from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. A place to take pride in and look after you would think?

Well you couldn't be more wrong. One look at the location now and you'd be forgiven for not realising any work had been undertaken. Broken benches, seats with graffiti on them and plants covered with litter is more likely the sight you will be met with. Not something you would expect from a recently finished development.

Stop, sit and be proud?

So much for a place where we can 'stop, sit and be proud' as Adam Reynolds of Cheltenham Borough Council originally commented.

Now it's more like a place where we can stop, sit and be ashamed.

Graffiti on the skate park

Ashamed of the mindless vandals who have caused this mess less than two months after it was completed.

Ashamed of the fact that the council has already had to come and repair this area.

But overall, ashamed that we seem to live in a time where some people have a complete lack of respect for the hard work and money that has been put in - £525,000 worth to be exact.

It seems that the vandals couldn't even wait until the scheme was finished. Crude graffiti appeared on newly painted walls before the the final touches were even put in place and residents recently admitted they were worried about vandalism which they commented was rife in the area.

Why?

Damaged bench

So why has all this happened? There was a special effort to create a space for everyone- young, old, skaters, bikers, mothers and toddlers.
Yet it seems that this was still not enough. Some people were still not happy. Vandalism has still taken place.

Government grants were only given to 10 sites in the whole country. According to Mr Garnham 'People here (Charlton Kings) have realised the dream.' Well Mr Garnham, maybe you should have a closer look…

Vandalism is ruining the area. It has to stop. And it has to stop now.

Article by Fay Daniels

This article contains user-generated content (i.e. external contribution) expressing a personal opinion, not the views of BBC Gloucestershire.

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