Survey on Wisbech Park reveals concerns of residents blighted by drink, drugs and anti-social behaviour

DRINKING, drug use, anti-social behaviour and inadequate police presence top a long list of concerns in a survey on Wisbech Park.

The customers’ perceptions survey, being conducted by Fenland District Council together with police and the Friends of Wisbech Park, has revealed a growing list of problems with residents blighted by teenagers drinking, shouting and urinating in their local park.

Almost 70 per cent of people interviewed highlighted drinking as a serious issue, with more than half also calling for more police presence.

There were further concerns about anti-social behaviour, litter, drug use, dog fouling and graffiti.

Only a quarter of those people surveyed felt that the park was a safe place to visit.

In a long list of comments on the park’s anti-social behaviour problems, residents called for the return of a park warden and closure of the park between sunset and sunrise.

One comment read: “I would not walk in the park without my husband because of the drinking, urinating and fouling in public.”

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Another stated: “We barely use the park. It’s like a “No Go Area” at times for my family with abuse and threats. My youngest son has been attacked, chased and hurt coming home several times and we live ten metres from the park.”

The survey is still incomplete, with around 100 questionnaires returned so far.

A council spokesman said: “Once the report is completed, we will meet again with the police and the Friends of Wisbech Park to evaluate it and decide on how best to tackle the concerns that people have raised. We are due to have another meeting on October 14.

“It has been a very useful exercise. Although there are clearly problems with some park users, most people – so far around 60 per cent – say they think the park is ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and only 10 per cent describe it as ‘poor’.

“By working together and responding to people’s concerns we aim to make it even better for the whole community.”

Councillor Simon King, Chairman of Friends of Wisbech Park, said: “There are still concerns but there was an overall view that things had improved and that we are going in the right direction.

“There is nothing I would like more than for the various problems - drinking, drug abuse and public urination - to stop. But it’s not just in Wisbech Park. I’m not excusing it but these are very difficult things to completely eliminate.”

Cllr King said the group were planning to bid for lottery funding to help make improvements to the park.

He said: “It would be great to have more CCTV in the park and it would be great to have a park warden.

“If you look at where the park was when we started six years ago and you look at where it is now, it has certainly improved.

“We are on a journey and we are improving things. There is more to do and we are really grateful to have people’s feedback.

“The solutions to these problems are long term, they can’t happen overnight. We need to educate and discourage people from that sort of behaviour.”

One frequent visitor to the park, John Smith, said: “I go in there very regularly at all hours of the day and night and I have never felt threatened. I have no negative impression of the park, it is very nice and we are lucky to have it.”