THE British public fears for the future of its parks because of vandalism and anti-social behaviour so much that taxpayers are prepared to pay more to see them protected, according to a national survey.
Although damage to public open spaces is normally seen as a problem in big towns and cities, it is also common in market towns. The beautiful Aireville Park in Skipton has been subject to a series of police raids in recent weeks against gangs of underage drinkers who stage all night parties, damage trees and benches, and leave the area strewn with broken bottles and other litter.
Even small villages in the Aire Valley, like Silsden and Bradley, have seen years of damage in areas set aside for public leisure.
Now, an organisation which campaigns for the better care of public parks, PlantforLife, has conducted a nationwide survey which paints a horrendous picture of the decline of once proud open spaces.
It shows widespread vandalism, including snapped tree saplings (73%), trampled plant life (72%), graffiti etched on tree trunks (63%), trampled grassy areas (49%) and beheaded flowers (47%). Other problems include dog mess (99%), littering (90%), fly tipping (78%) and abandoned cars (50%).
PlantforLife says that 53% of its respondents would be prepared to pay more to have their parks better maintained - but a majority also believe that local authorities are failing to do so.