Plea to improve security at Hartlepool allotments after break-in and fires

A councillor is calling on officials to review security at allotments across town after incidents of arson and animals being killed at one site.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 4:45 am

Independent Hart ward councillor John Riddle has also asked Hartlepool Borough Council to mount a campaign asking parents “do you know what your child is doing tonight” but says he has been rebuffed.

The council, however, insists it already has “a number of measures in place to help reduce incidents”.

Cllr Riddle has called for action after a plot holder at Chester Road allotments caught three young people on CCTV in his shed decapitating one of his breeding rabbits and attacking chickens and geese.

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Councillor John Riddle at the Chester Road allotments site.

The same night, on June 30, a shed on another plot on the same site was destroyed in a suspected arson attack.

Cllr Riddle, who lives in Chester Road, has written to the Hartlepool Community Safety Team, Jesmond ward councillors and the co-ordinator of the Chester Road Neighbourhood Watch Scheme to try to give the site more protection.

He said: “The allotments are owned by Hartlepool Council and are rented to people, more than 80% are over the age of 55, who are enjoying a healthy pastime.

"They grow fruit and vegetables and raise chickens for fresh eggs. In the past allotment owners have shared produce with their home owners in Chester Road.

"I’m told some allotments aren’t covered by CCTV. I just want the council to review it.”

Following the allotment incidents and a grass fire at a children’s play area at Bishop Cuthbert, Cllr Riddle also approached Hartlepool Community Safety Team.

Cllr Riddle said his campaign idea was rejected, adding: “I wanted them to run an awareness campaign called Do You Know what your child is doing tonight?

"The message is not getting through to parents.”

Chester Road allotments.

A council spokesman said: “The council’s allotment team has a number of measures in place to help reduce incidents of break ins, arson, theft, etc, across all of its sites.

"The allotment team also regularly meets and communicates with the representatives of the site association in order to identify any potential weakness that may affect the security of the site.

"This includes regular site visits, fencing and lock repairs, target hardening advice, use of anti-burglary paint as well as regular reminders about locking the access points to avoid opportunistic ‘walk in’ crime taking place.

"Regular updates and intelligence sharing continue to take place between the allotment, community safety and neighbourhood policing teams in order to formulate responses to issues that affect the site.

“We would also remind tenants on all council-managed allotment sites to please lock gates whenever possible, remain vigilant of people on the site, report suspicious behaviour and finally not to leave things of value on allotments that make their plot or the site a target.

“Regarding the children’s play area at Bishop Cuthbert, our playground inspector has not noticed any fire damage at the playground. The Community Safety Outreach Team has been making, and continues to make, visits to the play area.”

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