New play equipment blamed for worsening anti-social behaviour in Brentwood park

CCTV is being installed at one of Brentwood’s most popular parks following complaints that drink-fuelled antisocial behaviour around new play equipment is ruining neighbours’ lives.

Leah Flack claims that over the past six years, obscenities from screeching youths allegedly abusing equipment at King George’s Park until the early hours of the morning have made life for her and her family increasingly intolerable.

The 40-year-old who lives in Hartswood Road claims she has repeatedly asked Brentwood Council for more to be done to curb the behaviour in the children’s play area that backs onto her property.

She says she has had to call the fire brigade after a climbing frame was torched and then a campfire allegedly nearly burnt out of control.

And the mother of two claims that all-night parties with music blaring out of speakers have meant she has to keep her windows closed even through the heat of the summer.

But she claims the problem has drastically worsened since Brentwood Council replaced play equipment at the cost of £265,000 – including one item that she says has allowed teenagers to peer into her garden as they swoop over the top of her fence.

Leah, who lives with Michael and their daughters Esme, six, and two-year-old Ayla, said: “These are adults, they get chucked out of the pubs, walk past and they just stay in the play areas for hours.

“We have two young children. In the summer we have to keep all the windows shut because of the language, it is so bad with screaming shrieking and smashing.

“When it is really hot you can’t open the windows. The language is awful. I have two small children and I don’t want them listening to that.

“And it’s frightening for them when they hear people screeching and smashing the equipment.

“But my issue is the council have said they engaged with us. We have not been consulted.

“What the council has installed is like a beacon for every drunk.”

The council’s King George’s park plans have been beset with controversy – the council has gone ahead with a new pavilion even though it was unable to eject the members of Hartswood Golf Club which still has years to run on a 60-year lease for its own clubhouse.

Higher parking charges are expected to be introduced later in the year at King George’s playing fields – but concerns have been raised that charges could encourage visitors to use local roads to park on rather than paying for parking.

Leah said: “Ideally we want them to move the merry go round, aside from the fact about the privacy, it is just like a beacon.

“Ultimately my main frustration is after all this evidence we have given them, of all the places they put it was behind our back fence.

“They don’t seem to see it is a problem.”

Leah says she has kept a log of the incidents since 2016 which she claims include glasses being smashed and speakers blaring into the early hours.

Technology programme manager Leah now fears for the summer when she says the situation only gets worse.

She said: “The council must get so sick of us emailing to say we have had another weekend of hell.

“They said all this will be alleviated with the new play equipment.

“But what they have installed has made it even worse. My main concern is that they refused to send us the plans. It clearly shows that this equipment is going to attract even more trouble.”

A spokesperson from Brentwood Borough Council said: “Our community safety team work with Essex Police to patrol the park and CCTV is being put in place as part of the redevelopment. We are currently arranging a meeting with the resident to discuss their concerns.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter