Thursday, 5.30pm: Spalding’s ‘sexual athletics’ bench has gone - leaving hot-blooded residents without their favourite spot for rowdy behaviour.
The Spalding Guardian can reveal the bench, along the River Welland opposite the Cley Hall Hotel, was moved early Thursday morning by South Holland District Council workmen.
We were first to break the news to the hotel, where guests taking a room with a view of the love bench have been kept awake until the early hours by the drink-fuelled antics of groups of young people.
Co-owner David Stanbridge said: “Oh my goodness, it IS gone! There were people on it last night at 10pm and we had to call the police numerous times at the weekend.
“That’s really amazing - we’re going to have a party.”
Complaints about behaviour at the bench were first made public at a meeting of Spalding Town Forum, when Coun Christine Lawson said: “It’s not just happening for a short time - it’s become like sexual athletics and you could even say they are turning it into an Olympic sport.”
Mr Stanbridge, who took over the hotel last year, said it had been a continuing problem as he and his business partner, Mr Rob Andrews, were trying to provide Spalding with a five-star hotel and something the town could be proud of.
He said: “I would like to thank the council for their help with this. Now we can move forward with confidence on completeing our renovation. Our guests will be able to enjoy peace and quiet and we don’t have to be embarrassed about ASB on the bench. We will be able to be proud of Spalding.”
Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, portfolio holder for waste management, green spaces and operational planning, said: “I asked for the bench to be removed as a short-term fix to a problem which has been causing the community concern.
“The bench was attracting anti-social behaviour of various kinds and it is fair to say that its location, being partially screened by surrounding walls and buildings regrettably invited this type of misuse, compared to other more open sites. I also suspect that most decent minded citizens would now avoid using this bench given its recent uses.
“Clearly this is not an overall solution to the problems being experienced in that area and the council will continue to work with the Police and other partner agencies to tackle the underlying issues.”
Thursday, 10am: A BLACKSMITH’S tourist attraction in Spalding is holding fire on taking the town’s notorious riverside bench for its visitors to sit on.
The story about “sexual athletics” on the bench opposite the Cley Hall Hotel went global after the Spalding Guardian published it online last week.
At the time, councillors wanted to end the nightmare fuelled by drinking until the early hours that was keeping guests awake in the hotel along the River Welland by finding someone to move it.
But a director at Chain Bridge Forge in High Street, who has been contacted about the bench, said he was not prepared to foot the bill to collect it until the problems were stopped.
Geoff Taylor said: “It’s not as simple as undoing a couple of bolts and moving it.
“We don’t want the people using it to migrate up to us. The problem needs resolving first.
“At some point we will need a bench for our visitors to sit on, but at the moment this is not it.”
Drinking and rowdy behaviour until the early hours has been upsetting guests at more than one hotel along the river.
The owners of a B&B that once belonged to a film star say activities on another bench opposite them have been a problem for the past three years.
Former meat trader Deryck Marshall said: “We used to get fishermen using the bench. Now we just get groups of people playing loud music, drinking and shouting until the early hours. It really is time something was done.”
Mr Marshall and his wife, Shirley, took over the High Bridge B&B 33 years ago and said London Road was a nice area then.
He said: “It had belonged to the wife of James Robertson Justice, an actor who starred in Carry On films.
“I worked for Geo Adams and Sons Ltd and it was something for my wife to do while the children were young.
“But running a B&B is not enjoyable at the moment. I’ve put in a complaint to the council and filled in forms logging when the noise happens, but nothing has been done yet.
“The problem is just a small minority of people in the town – and not just Eastern Europeans – but something needs to be done.”
A spokesmen for South Holland District Council was unable to comment as all the noise officers were on calls out of the office.