Tunstall Memorial Gardens safety concerns: 'Vandal attacks are disrespectful to the war dead'
RESIDENTS are calling for gates around a war memorial to be locked overnight to stop vandal attacks.
Police, council officials and residents have met over safety concerns at Tunstall Memorial Gardens.
It comes as 14 reports of anti-social behaviour have been investigated by police at the site since Christmas.
Complaints have included poppies being pulled up, lights being stolen and children playing ball games.
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The gates were locked from 2.15pm in the week and completely over the weekend during a six-week trial last year.
But it was later decided to keep them open 24 hours a day amid fears residents would not be able to pay their respects to the war dead otherwise.
Friends of Tunstall War Memorial Committee chairman Doug Green, pictured right, of Clanway Street, Tunstall, who attended Wednesday's meeting at Burslem Police Station, said:
"There is so much graffiti and bad behaviour around the memorial that it is a disgrace.
"It is very disrespectful and these young people have no respect for those who gave their lives for freedom.
"All we ask is that the memorial is kept as a place for quiet worship and compassion where loved-ones can be remembered.
"If the gates were locked overnight then anyone found inside would be trespassing and perhaps the police could do more to stop it."
The war memorial – which commemorates the lives of 648 people – was officially unveiled in 2009.
The meeting was held as Cheshire Police continue to investigate the theft of brass hooks from Crewe's war memorial.
Sergeant Phillip Ferns, from Stoke-on-Trent North Local Policing Team, said: "Regular, high-visibility patrols in the area are carried out by neighbourhood police officers.
"We understand the distress anti-social behaviour can cause in the community and all such calls are looked into and the appropriate action taken.
"We are continuing to work with our partners and members of the community to ensure the importance of Tunstall Memorial Gardens and what it stands for."
Staffordshire Police and Stoke-on-Trent City Council meet on a monthly basis to discuss anti-social behaviour issues in communities.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and community safety said: "The issues around locking the gates overnight were discussed last year. It was decided that preventing public access would be likely to increase the risk of crime and vandalism as parks would be deserted, making them easier targets.
"If an issue arises at the memorial gardens then the situation can be reviewed."
None of the council's own parks are locked overnight.