Debris left by travellers and a lack of council care for Luton's Memorial Park has ruined it, claim residents

One woman says she collect near half a kilo of glass in the aftermath of illegal encampment

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 5:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 5:38 pm

Residents around a Luton park say they have had enough about the way it is being looked after.

Users of Memorial Park on Cutenhoe Road say complaints over broken glass, left after travellers invaded the park in early September, have gone unheeded.

One woman, Caroline, was so unhappy with the council's response she started to clean up the glass herself after she says the grass was mown but the glass left on site.

Memorial Park (Google)

"I spent two hours scraping and picking up as much glass as I possibly could, trying to remember the areas where I had seen it - to locate it and then remove it. Some of the glass I found were big chunks sticking up like razors, half buried in the ground where the bottles had been smashed and rammed into the grass. I collected nearly half a kilo of glass before I actually gave up and then went to tackle the glass swept (poorly by the park maintenance guys) into the edges of the path," she said.

In a letter to councillors and council officials, supported by other users of the park, she said: "This is a busy park and in constant use, particularly by dog walkers and children whom are most at risk of injury from broken glass, not to mention the wildlife. Both myself and my fellow dog owners felt that this hazard needed to be dealt with immediately.

"The whole thing is completely unacceptable. These ‘travellers’ are allowed to wreak havoc and get away with it. Normal park users were being threatened and verbally abused by these people. In Harpenden it takes one day to get rid of travellers hence travellers don’t even bother to descend upon Harpenden. Why does it take LBC so long? I had to walk elsewhere with my dog in the mornings for over two weeks as did most other people because of both travellers and then subsequently, glass".

She said there were also other issues with the park including a lack of dog waste bins, broken glass, dog mess and electric scooters.

"These are illegal to ride on the pavements," she said. "They are even more dangerous when young people are riding around on them at full speed in the park narrowly missing people, children and dogs. A report regarding speeding electric scooters in Memorial Park was made to the police earlier this year by a member of the public. The council need to put up some signs to deter scooters as it won’t be long before an adult, child or dog gets seriously injured."

Residents also slammed the state of the gardens, claiming the resident gardener had been deployed elsewhere over the summer causing a problem with weeds and brambles.

"The bowlers who use the bowling green had finally had enough and decided to try and tackle the problems around the bowling green themselves," she said. "Forty bags of weeds, nettles, bramble and columbine were removed by nine people one day followed by six people on another day. Why should we have to do jobs the council should be doing and for which we are paying them to do? It’s outrageous.

"Memorial Park is supposed to be a ‘green flag’ status park. Whenever you are about to reissue the green flag status you send a whole team of workers out to bring it up to scratch, even going so far as sending litter pickers out the morning of the day that the councillors or whomever are due to do the walk around and give it the thumbs up! It’s a farce, a complete joke. The rest of the year it’s left to go to ‘rack and ruin.’

"Whilst you are addressing these issues and working out a solution, we suggest that you lower the ‘green flag’ in Memorial Park or replace it with a dirty torn brown flag, which would be far more appropriate!"

A spokesman for Luton Council said: "The council is very frustrated by unauthorised encampments within the town and shares residents’ concerns over the inconsiderate, anti-social behaviour such as littering and fly tipping. We have spent over 80 hours of employees' time cleaning up Memorial Park after this latest encampment. In addition, following additional complaints received, we have sent staff to the location to see if any dangerous rubbish remains.

"The council takes great pride in its parks which provide green spaces for everyone to enjoy and to see them mistreated so badly is a real insult to all residents. When we are made aware of illegal encampments we always move as quickly as possible within the laws available to us to ensure evictions can take place. Sadly, as has been the case in this instance, we so often have to waste valuable tax payers’ money on clean-up operations afterwards."

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