Park security a ‘waste of cash’

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THE gates to Holbeach’s Carter’s Park could be thrown open 24 hours a day after security was branded a waste of taxpayers’ money.

At the moment the gates are locked at dusk but this doesn’t stop people getting in through holes in the hedge.

Up until a few months ago Holbeach Parish Council paid a security guard to patrol the park but he died and the council has found it very difficult to replace him.

At a meeting on Monday, clerk Jill Harrington said Sutterton-based company Triple SSS has quoted £18.50 a day, with time and a half for Bank Holidays to patrol Carter’s Park, Stukeley Gardens and the parish playing field. There will be no extra charge for normal weekends.

The service will include locking and unlocking all three areas and providing signs for them.

Any emergency call-outs will cost £9.25 plus vat an hour.

Coun Martin Howard said the council has been waiting a long while for a quote but suggested asking the company along to a meeting before they accepted.

He said: “We have got to have security.”

Coun Isobel Hutchinson said there is no point in asking the company to the meeting if the council can’t afford to pay the rates.

She added: “It’s a waste of time having any security at the park. If they want to get in they will do.”

Coun Carol Johnson said the park keeper is locking and unlocking the park at the moment and he is getting abuse from the youths hanging around there.

She said: “Should we look at not locking the park at all?”

Coun Rita Rudkin raised concerns that it would be open to all sorts of abuse but Coun Johnson said it is anyway because it’s not secure.

She added: “I don’t think it will make any difference if the gates are locked or not.”

Coun Howard said: “We have two choices. We can either fence it off and make it secure or take the hedge down and let them all in.”

Coun Hutchinson said the way forward would be to check how much money is available and then debate it at the next meeting.

She said: “We need to have a proper debate on whether we are spending taxpayers’ money in a reasonable manner by paying a company to turf youths out of a park that’s not secure.

“I would suggest we are not.”

Coun Rudkin suggested an experimental time between two meetings when the gates are “thrown open”.

Coun Hutchinson added: “That suggestion was made before but was never voted on. Maybe the new council will have a bit more sense and try it.”

Coun Rudkin said: “This is a major decision that will have far reaching consequences, so we need to make sure about finances and then talk about it at the next meeting.”

In the meantime is was agreed to pay the park keeper extra wages for locking and unlocking the park.

Coun Peter Savory said: “He was only asked to do it short term and it’s still going on months later.”