Saxton Field suffers again

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 01/05/2012
Leanne Russ
COLIN SMITH
POINTLESS: Nelson Netball administration manager Leanne Russ with one of the vandalised nets at the Saxton Courts.

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Saxton Field has been hit by a spate of vandalism, with ripped netball nets, broken windows, and a heavy bicycle stand unbolted and tipped over.

The damage comes as schools in the Nelson and Tasman areas have had to spend more to combat vandalism and graffiti.

Nelson Netball administration manager Leanne Russ said Saxton Stadium usually experienced a low level of vandalism, but in the last month or two there had been a spate of damage.

At the end of March, staff returned to the Stoke stadium after a weekend to find about 10 of the nets "ripped to shreds".

A few weeks later, after the Geraldine Hodgson pre-season netball club tournament, another dozen nets were ripped.

Vandals also tipped over a large metal bicycle stand, which had been bolted into concrete, Ms Russ said.

"That was a doozy."

Last weekend a large, heavy noticeboard had been mostly unbolted from a wall, and had swung on its remaining bolt and smashed a window.

Three separate incidents occurred over the weekend, with a large window in the stadium's foyer smashed and the remaining nets ripped.

One net was partially damaged, which Ms Russ said might have meant the vandals had been interrupted.

Nets usually lasted about five years, but the ruined nets had been put up only last year, she said.

"You don't accidentally do that. This is deliberate, this is wilful."

The increased vandalism was odd, she said.

"You get the odd amount, and you get the accidental stuff, so we are used to that. We've not had this level."

She had sent an email to all of the netball teams to see if anyone had more information, and she had told the police.

Nelson City Council parks and facilities manager Paul McArthur said the council would soon be installing security cameras at the grounds to combat the problem.

Traditionally, Saxton Field had suffered from boyracers driving through the grounds and damaging the surfaces, and this was the first significant period of vandalism he had been aware of.

Mr McArthur said he hoped the recent spate of vandalism had been a blip rather than the start of an ongoing issue.

Overall, vandalism in the city had been steadily increasing, but there were peaks and troughs, he said.

He encouraged the public to report to the police any anti-social behaviour they witnessed.

"It's all a cost to the ratepayer," he said.

Figures from the Ministry of Education released last week showed vandalism and graffiti were costing Nelson and Tasman schools almost $140,000 a year.

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Primary and secondary schools in the Nelson area received a total of $74,838 in vandalism grants last year. Schools in the Tasman area received $64,184. These totals are up on previous years.

- The Nelson Mail

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