Battling to beat Valley Gardens graffiti and vandalism

An example of graffiti in the Valley Gardens in Harrogate. (Picture by Monika Sabor)
An example of graffiti in the Valley Gardens in Harrogate. (Picture by Monika Sabor)
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Harrogate Advertiser's readers' concerns about the "dark side" of the Valley Gardens have led to its supporters emphasising how much work it going on to improve Harrogate's favourite park.

Several readers have express worries about graffiti and vandalism in recent weeks.

One of them, Monika Sabor, even sent the Harrogate Advertiser photographs she had taken.

She said: "The pictures attached show the dark side of Valley Gardens and speak for themselves.

"In the Valley Gardens we have beautifully manicured gardens alongside graffiti, broken bottles, litter, dog fouling and areas like the Sun Pavilion and Colonnades used as public toilets.

"There seems to be no monitoring of the gardens. Dogs are mostly off leash and are free to run through the flower beds, destroying the hard work of the gardeners.

"There is no CCTV. Tourists come into the area and are visibly shocked at what they see."

Rebecca Chandler said she had enjoyed attending the hugely popular 1940s Day recently but has been surprised by what she had seen.

She said: "My son and many other children enjoyed their time at the skatepark.

"But there was foul language graffiti on there aswell. It's ot nice when children are playing. And it's also not a good advert for Harrogate."

But Harrogate Borough Council said they were proud of the award-winning Valley Gardens, as was the whole town, and staff were specifically allocated to maintain and protect the park.

Coun Michael Harrison, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling said: “We are always disappointed when we see complaints like this because we are proud of our parks and gardens and everyone works very hard to maintain them to the highest standards.

"Unfortunately there are a few who spoil things, but we do what we can to minimise any impact this has on the enjoyment of others using the facilities.

"A park ranger regularly patrols Valley Gardens and deals with any issues of antisocial behaviour including situations where dogs are running round uncontrolled and

“And,our gardeners are aware of the need to report incidents such as graffiti to their managers and once reported it is swiftly removed."

"Whenever litter or broken bottles are discovered they promptly clear and dispose of them.

“A park ranger regularly patrols Valley Gardens and deals with any issues of antisocial behaviour including situations where dogs are running round uncontrolled and are causing damage and we do have cameras in the park providing 24/7 monitoring - however even in a relatively low crime area such as Harrogate incidents do still occur.

“But it is not just about cleaning up the mess left behind and the antisocial behaviour, it is also about prevention and as a result the council was recently part of the national ‘We’re Watching You’ campaign which sets its sights on dog owners who act irresponsibly when they think they aren’t being watched.

"This had a significant result in reducing offending and we hope that this continues."

The Friends of the Valley Gardens, a charity whose volunteers who do so much to improve Valley Gardens for visitors, said they focused on improving behaviour in the park throuhgh education.

A spokesperson for FOVG said: "We put up signs ourselves warning visitors to not smoke in the children's play area and not to climb on top of the rock garden.

"It's a pity we have to worry about these things but we're doing our best to educate young people about the need to respect and care for Valley Gardens."

Amd Harrogate Borough Council said it is determined to deal with any problems.

Coun Harrison said: “Hopefully people will appreciate the gardens and everything everyone does to make them such a wonderful place to visit but we would also ask visitors to help us to keep Valley Gardens in that way.

Harrogate Borough Council is advising the public to report any incidents to its customer services team by calling 01423 500 600 or emailing CustomerServices@harrogate.gov.uk

They say it will help the council to respond at the earliest opportunity.