Race-track hooligans damage park
Two young women may find themselves in hot water after being discovered trying to get their car off Ashurst Park - after they had allegedly taken part in a late-night vandalism session.
Hamilton North Football Club secretary Nicole Mills said the club's under-13 team had turned up to play its Melville counterparts on Sunday morning to discover several vehicles had used the club's pitch as a race track, causing serious damage to the surface.
"The hooligans had been ploughing tracks around the pitch.
"We had to shift our game to Bremworth Park [in Dinsdale]."
Mills said it turned out several vehicles, probably three, had gained access to Ashurst Park through a driveway of a private residence which backed onto the park, and then through an opening to the park.
"The neighbours had heard a commotion. The cars were racing around on the fields with no lights on.
"When we got there in the morning, there was two girls in a Rav 4 trying to find a way off the park.
"They had gone to get out through the private property but the owners had told them to bugger off.
"We got the number of the vehicle which was handed on to the police."
Mills said council staff had viewed the damage and asked the club to keep off the ground for the week while repairs were undertaken.
Hamilton North Football Club has 174 junior and about 60 senior players.
"It's disgusting people can do this to a public place. We're ratepayers too and the club pays decent money to the council to use the park," Mills said.
Hamilton City Council parks and open spaces manager Sally Sheedy said damage to the turf at Ashurst Park was frustrating for council parks staff.
It followed a series of similar incidents over the past few weeks, with vehicles also damaging turf at Minogue Park, Gower Park and Tauhara Park.
"We don't have an exact cost on the repairs, but nevertheless it does take time and resources for our teams to sort it out - and the effectiveness of those repairs is reliant on good weather.
"We are urging residents whose properties are next to our parks to be our "eyes and ears" - if they see or hear vehicles on our parks, particularly at night, we urge them to call us or police with information.
"The key information we are after includes vehicle descriptions and registration plates. We would ask residents to be as accurate as possible with those details. Any information can be supplied on an anonymous basis, and we do lodge complaints with police."
Sheedy said the council would support a police prosecution if the culprits were located and charged.