MINDLESS yobs have left disabled users of a community allotment devastated after committing eight vandal attacks in just eight weeks
Vandals have repeatedly targeted the Waverley Terrace Community Allotment, which opened almost six years ago, and is an outlet and a haven for people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties.
The group, along with support staff and volunteers, grow and sell vegetables, plants and flowers for donations from the community, the profits are ploughed back into the scheme.
But on eight separate occasions since Christmas, vandals have smashed large panes of safety glass in greenhouses and costing a total of more than £1,000, with money from the group needing to be used to pay for repairs.
The latest attack on the allotment was just last week, and was discovered when Hartlepool Borough Council support worker Julie Rhodes, turned up for work on Monday, after leaving the site locked and secure the previous night.
Sickened Julie found there had been a further attack on Tuesday morning after the vandals had struck again.
She said: “I came to work on the Monday and found that one of the green house windows had been smashed so I informed the police, Then the next day it had happened again. It’s just sickening and it’s had a real affect on the people who use the garden.
“It really means a lot to them and they’re all upset about it, they’re disgusted, we all are.
“I don’t think the people who have done this realise how important the allotment is.”
The shattered glass has been peppered over bedding plants and shrubs that the users, who are children from as young as five up to adults with a variety of special needs, have planted.
Julie added: “Since Christmas it’s happened about eight times.
“We’ve been here for a lot of years and I’ve never known it to be as bad as what it is now.
“It’s such a shame that after all the hard work we put in, this is happening.
“The money that we could be using on improvements, and to buy more seeds and equipment, is having to go on buying new windows.
“You could say, ‘what’s the point in carrying on’ but it’s worth keeping it going because the users enjoy it so much and get so much out of it. We are not going to let anyone stop them from doing what they like to do.”
Julie’s boss Darran Hutchinson said the panes are made of safety glass which is why they cost so much.
“It sometimes takes a couple of weeks for new panes of glass to come and be fitted and in that time we might lose a batch of bedding plants or whatever because the cold has got to them,” he said. “These people don’t realised the consequences.”
Children from both Springwell and Catcote Special Schools use the Waverley Terrace Community Allotment, as does Springboard, and even Hartlepool College of Further Education for certain units being studied by horticultural students.
It is open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 4pm for users to work in the cabin, potting shed and two greenhouses.
It has made it through to the finals of the prestigious Gardening Against the Odds awards, which is run by the Conservation Foundation in association with The Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph Gardening.
The allotment is one of 16 entries shortlisted in the awards which celebrate those who plant and grow against mental, physical or environmental odds.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said officers are investigating criminal damage at the site from Friday, February 13, to Tuesday, February 17, and urged any witnesses to ring 101.