Exmouth park shelter could be removed after repeated ‘nasty’ graffiti aimed at individual kids is discovered

Repeated ‘malicious’ graffiti aimed at children in Exmouth could result in a park shelter being permanently removed.

A community shelter in Phear Park, in Withycombe Raleigh, Exmouth, is at risk of being taken away by the district council after graffiti-scrawling vandals targeted the building.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the graffiti words used were ‘nasty and victimising’ and targeted individual children.

To remove the ‘harmful words’ the district council said its workers had to use taxpayer funds to repaint the shelter three times.

The vandals also kicked and broke park benches and targeted the public toilets, the district council said.

EDDC has gained support from a local school, contacted the police, and is urging parents to speak to their children about the bullying vandalism.

A spokesperson for the district council said: “The community shelter in Phear Park has frequently been targeted by vandals in the past, but in the last week nasty and victimising comments were written about a number of children.

“Despite swift action by East Devon District Council’s Streetscene team to remove it, the vandals returned twice more.

“So far, the incidents have happened between 3pm and 5pm on weekdays. EDDC is now looking to remove the shelter if the issue cannot be resolved.”

They added: “The shelter has now had to be repainted for a second time – and will need to be for a third time – meaning the incidents have racked up a bill costing several hundreds of pounds in labour and material – a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“In addition to this, the toilets at the park were targeted and some benches were also damaged and appeared to have been kicked until they broke.”

Peter Crofts, EDDC area officer for Exmouth, said: “It’s very disappointing that a minority of people can cause such alarm and distress with graffiti of such personal and directed content.

“This kind of mindless bullying behaviour is totally unacceptable in this day and age.

“It is also costing EDDC a lot of time and money to be continually painting over these harmful words.”

He added: “As it is anti-bullying week, we felt this was a perfect time to get together and work on a strategy to show those individuals that intimidating and bullying behaviour will not be tolerated in Exmouth.

“I would like to urge members of the public to report any illegal activities witnessed to the police, in order help identify the culprits and put a stop to this anti-social behaviour.”

EDDC wants to hear from anyone with information about the vandals and is inviting the public to email descriptions of the culprits, or photographs of them in action.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC portfolio holder for the coast, country and environment, said: “We are taking a multi-agency approach in order to keep this community facility open and graffiti-free.

“The EDDC Streetscene team works hard to keep Phear Park a family-friendly space for all to enjoy and, with the support of the local community, will continue to provide a safe and tranquil green space for the town of Exmouth.”

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