Vandals target beauty spot

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Groups of youngsters in high-powered cars are responsible for vandalism at a Ripon beauty spot, a city resident has said.

John Richmond lives close to Quarry Moor park and over recent weeks has seen large groups gathering at the site at night.

Last weekend, after efforts to keep cars out of the park at night, the site was attacked leaving the gate broken and the activity centre trashed.

A working group set up to make the park more “family friendly” had installed an electric gate on the car park, set to close automatically at 8pm, and automatic bollards to allow cars to leave but not enter the site.

On Friday night the gate’s mechanism was deliberately smashed meaning cars could come and go all night.

The following night Mr Richmond and a neighbour, ex-police officer Geoff Morris, went to the park with a padlock and chain to lock the broken gate at 8pm, by which time a crowd was already gathering, Mr Richmond said.

“We had to wade our way through a group to lock the gate, there would be about 30 people there. I was glad I had an ex-copper with me.”

Mr Richmond called the police to complain about the group gathering, but by Sunday morning more damage had been done.

The activity centre, used as an educational facility for school groups visiting the moor, had been broken into and the first aid kit and fire extinguishers were strewn about the site.

An eight foot high water butt had also been targeted, and was left lying in the middle of the car park.

Mr Richmond said he is frustrated that hard work by him and other volunteers at the site is being ruined, and that calling the police at 8.10pm did not stop the damage.

City Councillor Andrew Williams is chairman of Quarry Moor’s trustees.

“It is extremely disappointing that when people are working as hard as they can to make the area available to local people, a group of mindless vandals are ruining it.

“What’s more disappointing is that John warned the police that he himself felt uncomfortable there, but we ended up with the activity centre being vandalised.”

He wants to see the police do more to make sure isolated areas like Quarry Moor are not targeted by vandals.

“It’s all well and good having CCTV on the market square but there shouldn’t be groups out at Quarry Moor, or anywhere else, causing mayhem and damage,” Coun Williams said.

But Ripon police’s Inspector Robert Thorpe has defended their response. Ripon’s officers have to work with the control room to prioritise calls as they come in, he said, but they will not have ignored concerns that trouble was brewing at Quarry Moor.

“The problem at Quarry Moor is that there are two magnets for young people, McDonald’s and the park.

“This is something we want to get on top of, so we need to actively target our patrols up there, especially on the late shift.”