Solution in your hands

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2012
tdn burnout
CAMERON BURNELL
Burnouts on the grass at East End Reserve and other vandalism around the city has cost the council $10,000 over the last seven weeks, says Steve McGill

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A call has gone out for a "digital army" within the community to help stop vandalism in their own backyard.

On the same day the Taranaki Daily News published a front page story about vandalism at East End, a burnt out rubbish bin was discovered at the skate park.

But New Plymouth District councillor Shaun Biesiek wants people to take advantage of modern technology to help dob in the hooligans.

Justice can be delivered with the quick snap of an iPhone, he said.

The app "iCouncil" allows the user to take a photo and specify the problem type and location and submit it to the council. "I used it once for a pothole," he said.

He said it is a good way for people to anonymously report vandalism in their neighbourhood.

"That's why they get away with these things, because people don't bother to report it," he said.

The community should get behind the cause to prevent the damage.

"We should all be concerned about this," he said.

He found a Facebook friend in council hopeful Murray Chong, who wrote that council should give people a $200 reward for dobbing in the vandals, taken from a $500 minimum fine. "You will probably get their own mates confidentially dobbing them in just to get the $200 reward," he said.

Parks programmes manager Steve McGill said the vandalism cost the council about $1000 each time the barriers are smashed at East End.

He said the cost of the damage caused over the last seven weeks was more than $10,000.

But he said installing security cameras and building more fences is not the answer.

"We don't want to get into a siege mentality," he said.

"We don't want a fortified district, it's more about the offenders."

He said more barriers would ruin the aesthetic of New Plymouth parks and reserves.

Nearby resident Judy Holdom said it was a shame people were ruining the space for others.

"We spend a lot of time down there with our grandchildren, it's just so great for everyone, you don't want people spoiling it."

Her husband, John Holdom, said he thought a security camera would fix the problem.

"There is only one way in and out of there, a camera would solve it all very easily."

But Mr McGill said the council was reluctant to install cameras due to past failures.

He said there was also the issue of privacy with residential houses nearby as the camera would have to span 360 degrees.

The council has however put in cameras at the popular park-up spot Pig Out Point, on the other side of the reserve, to combat late night gatherings of troublemakers in the area.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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