A shopping trolley and broken windows on the ball court at Vauxhall Field

Shattered glass, rotting animal carcasses and shopping trolleys…

Cleaner Canterbury campaigners are refocusing their attention on the Vauxhall area of the city after discovering that it is once again in a deplorable condition.

Shattered window panes lie on the children’s ball court at Vauxhall Field, fires have been lit in undergrowth nearby and shopping trolleys have been abandoned there.

Volunteers who visited the site at the bottom of Vauxhall Avenue have also found rotting animal carcasses covered over with hardcore on the ground.

Anti-litter campaigner Sian Pettman visits the field several times a year in an effort to keep it tidy.

She says serious questions persist about the state of the field and the undergrowth around it.

Rubbish left at Vauxhall Field

She told the Canterbury Journal: “This is an area with a long history of fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour, but it also an area that suffers from chronic neglect.

“The field is owned by Canterbury City Council and managed by East Kent Housing.

“But judging from the state of it, East Kent Housing clearly has its work cut out dealing with its housing stock and simply doesn’t have the time or capacity or resources to look after this open space as well.

“And yet the field could, and should, provide a great play space for the many children living in the street and a pleasant riverside area for other residents to exercise and socialise in. But this is simply unimaginable if the current conditions prevail.”

On her visit to the area this week, Mrs Pettman found smashed window panes in the ball court with a shopping trolley on top.

There was a pile of planks strewn close by with nails and rusty wire sticking out of them.

Another shopping trolley containing cans and charred animal bones inside sat nearby. There were the remains of two open fires in which metal, household rubbish and plastic had been burned.

Fence panels that fell over in January are still lying on the ground, along with a new pile of soiled carpeting.

Mrs Pettman added: “Vauxhall Field is the final destination of the next stage of the cycle path which will eventually run from Canterbury to Sturry.

“But it will be a huge public embarrassment to the authorities if the state of the field doesn’t improve.”

She called for East Kent Housing, Canterbury City Council and Serco to arrange a meeting with residents, community groups and councillors to start working on a long-term management plan.

The remains of a fire at Vauxhall Field

Canterbury City Council admits the area is difficult to look after.

Spokesman Rob Davies said: “It is prone to regular vandalism and anti-social behaviour despite the efforts of officers from the city council and East Kent Housing to tackle these and keep the area as tidy as possible.

“The ball court is inspected and cleaned on a weekly basis. Other problems are responded to as and when they are reported. We are aware of the current rubbish there and arrangements were already being made to clear it.

“Our enforcement officers will also be heading there to look for locations for covert CCTV cameras to try and reduce issues in the area.

“Work is currently underway on a funding bid for seating at the ball court, part of which requires public consultation with residents.

“We intend to broaden that consultation to cover the wider field area, to get ideas from local people on the future of the field and how it could be improved.”

Mrs Pettman added: “It’s very good news that the council and East Kent Housing intend to hold a consultation to find ways of improving the field.

“For too long, the field has been managed in an ad hoc manner, at an arms length distance, which has facilitated the conditions in which anti-social behaviour thrives.

“It is high time for the authorities to work together with the local community in a proactive, coordinated and hands-on way.”

Anyone who needs to report environmental problems such as rubbish and fly-tipping can call Serco on 0800 031 9091.

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