Co-op debate buried by talk of skatepark litter

Councillors probably spent three minutes talking about the empty Co-op store in Caistor Market Place – and 20 times that length of time discussing litter at the skatepark – at their meeting last week (Thursday, September 8, 2016).

While the town faces its sixth anniversary of a 25% shutdown in its iconic Market Place, it seems that Caistor Town Councillors have other issues on their mind.

The agenda for the September meeting included improvements in the area between the gardens of Hansard Crescent and the skatepark, and also an update over a feasibility study into the former Co-op Store. The town council last year agreed to make available up to £10,000 towards the cost of the £25,000 feasibility study, with Lincolnshire Co-operative covering the rest of the cost.

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Above, the former Co-op store in Caistor Market Place.

However, talk about the area near the skatepark at Caistor Sports Ground dominated much of last Thursday’s Town Council meeting.

During the public forum, a resident from Hansard Crescent voiced concern that a hedge bordering his garden had been cut back. “Don’t you think it’s a bit late having a discussion about what you are going to do after you have done it?” he asked.

The council later heard that a report had recommended the hedge be cut back to encourage thicker growth nearer to ground level, while Cllr Alan Somerscales said children had broken off branches of a leylandii tree, apparently to sweep areas of the skatepark.

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Caistor skatepark earlier today (Sept 13, 2016)

During a discussion on police activity, Cllr Mike Stopper asked for more information about a youngster reportedly seen walking about near the skatepark carrying a hammer.

Town Clerk Helen Pitman said she had received an email to say the matter had been dealt with. Some councillors praised a member of the public for taking a photograph of the youngster as he was reportedly carrying the hammer.

During the Town Clerk’s report to the council, Ms Pitman said some problems with anti-social behaviour near the skatepark were ‘still ongoing’.

“It is time to discuss a way forward to try to stop incidences and make everyone aware of this,” she said. “The skatepark was put there by huge demand and it is just unfortunate that we are having all this anti-social behaviour.”

A long discussion followed about litter, including the type of litter being found near the skatepark – such as two-litre drinks bottles – the ages of the suspected culprits, the difficulties in pursuing enforcement action, and whether the enforcement action taken so far had been a deterrent or whether some individuals were “showing contempt”. An incident was described whereby a car driver and a maintenance worker had a dispute over alleged litter dropping, but both the police and West Lindsey District Council declined to get involved. Councillors deplored the length of time spent chasing paperwork.

“The police would not take it on and West Lindsey won’t take it on. We have to do it ourselves,” said Ms Pitman. She said the town council had applied to DVLA to get the name and address of the female car driver. The cost of the DVLA fee was later quoted during the financial report as being £2.50.

“Keith will pay this lady a visit,” added Ms Pitman.

Cllr Martin Sizer asked whether it was worth liaising with Keelby Council to see if the skatepark there had attracted any issues, and how they were tackled. Ms Pitman replied that the maintenance worker – who is also the town council’s enforcement officer over issues such as dog fouling – had also worked in Keelby. “Their skatepark is outside the community and not used quite as much,” she added.

Cllr Michael Galligan said some landscaping still needed to be completed around the skatepark and youngsters might take more pride if the area looked more tidy generally. He said the litter was no different to the type of litter occasionally dropped in Caistor Market Place.

 

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“We have been too gentle and too kind,” said Cllr Steve Millson. “It is a fine-able offence. We have CCTV. Why can’t we fine people – though the last thing we want to do is this.”

Cllr Alan Caine said enforcement officers cannot issue tickets to juveniles. “It has to go through the parents,” he said.

“I can assure you it is not the young you should be interested in,” said Cllr Somerscales. “Those up to about 11 and 12 are extremely enthusiastic about picking up litter and keep the area clean. It is the older ones. They take their lunches there.”

Meanwhile, the meeting was told that the feasibility report into the former Co-op store will be presented to the council on Friday, September 16. It was originally expected to be presented at the end of January 2016.

Ms Pitman read out a letter from Liz Bates of Heritage Lincolnshire saying the organisation had been awaiting confirmation of an update into the property’s valuation and that the business case for mixed use of the site will be tested.

Ms Pitman said she was concerned about a paragraph in the letter which stated that the co-operation of the town council was essential to the process. “I am rather mystified by the final paragraph,” she said. “I am not aware that the town council will want to take this forward. I will query what she means by that.”

“The whole thing seems to be dragging on and on and on,” said Cllr Galligan. “It seems to me that the Co-op are prevaricating.” He called for the town council to hold an extraordinary meeting into the matter, while Cllr Millson added, “It’s time to get them round the table again.”

As the litter was reported to be generally dropped near the skatepark at lunchtimes, the Citizen visited the Sports Ground at 2.10pm today (Tuesday, September 13, 2016) to take photographs. News reports stated that it was the warmest September day for 65 years, so it seemed reasonable to expect that some people might have eaten their lunch there.

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Not a single scrap of litter could be seen near the skatepark, though there was evidence that the maintenance worker had recently been working there, with a roll of blue bin sacks left on one piece of equipment. Two youngsters were playing basketball.

The Citizen visited the town centre immediately afterwards and found three small items of litter.

4 Comments

  1. Angela Clark

    It would be good if there was positive reports on the things the council do

    Reply
  2. Shona Wall

    It most certainly would, Cllr Clark!

    Reply
  3. Michael Stockwood

    My wife and I walk through the playing field possibly four or five times a week and rarely see any litter of any consequence (what we do see is picked up and put in the bin) but what we do see is children and young adults enjoying themselves.

    Reply
  4. John Raftery

    Could the council look at the issue of dog mess on the playing areas? Do we need to ban all dogs from the sport and social club’s environs to protect its members from this filth?

    Reply

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