Vandals throw club future into doubt

By <b>Ian Dipple Friday 01 August 2014 Updated: 05/08 13:45

REPEATED bouts of vandalism and arson have left the future of one of the town’s main sporting clubs in doubt.

Since April, Redditch Cricket, Hockey and Rugby Club has experienced a series of incidents of anti-social behaviour which have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

In the last month alone arsonists have started three fires on the Bromsgrove Road site, the latest of which happened last Friday afternoon (July 25) when the grass bank at the foot of the rugby pitch was set alight. Other incidents saw the part of the astro turf burnt and a chair and tyre were set on fire near to the clubhouse which could have spread to nearby homes.

On other occasions seven car windows were smashed and items taken from them on one evening and equipment including rugby posts, hockey and football goals have all been damaged beyond repair.

Neville Mason, vice chairman of the club, said while they had experienced isolated incidents of vandalism in the past, this year it had escalated to new levels.

“It’s not just an isolated incident and it’s getting to the point where you think let’s just close it down and let them build houses on it and see how they enjoy it then,” he told the Standard.

“We provide a lot of sport in the area, all the sections have juniors, we go into the schools and the colleges, we spend a lot of time and effort and when all the money we raise has to go on dealing with the vandalism, as a club you can’t afford to keep doing it.

“It’s the members that have to pay for it and we’re having to raise more and more money to deal with the consequences of the vandalism that’s destabilising our club that’s there for the Redditch community that we want people to use and enjoy. It’s money that should go on coaching juniors and paying for new equipment.

“The message I would send to those doing this is remember the legacy you are creating which is no sports facilities in the town.”

A joint letter from David Eley, the club secretary, and PC Gemma Cashion, of the Batchley and Central Safer Policing Team, has been sent to residents in the area appealing for information. It said: “The club, whilst offering an element of goodwill to local residents by allowing access to the site out of hours, cannot continue to suffer the financial repercussions of such damage being caused.

“The club are working closely with West Mercia Police to identify offenders and bring them to justice but the help of the local community is sought to assist with this.”

Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 or if they see a crime in progress 999.

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