Residents take sides over ‘teen zone’ bid

Barbara Hitchcox and Mike Routledge, who are protesting about a ‘teen zone’ being built near their homes

Barbara Hitchcox and Mike Routledge, who are protesting about a ‘teen zone’ being built near their homes

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

A ‘TEEN zone’ planned for a Witney field has divided residents on either side of the site.

About 300 residents have signed a petition opposing plans to create an area for teenagers on the Madley Park Estate.

The area, proposed by a project group consisting of four organisations, would include play equipment, a graffiti wall and a shelter equipped with wi-fi where youngsters could hang out.

The petitioners say it could lead to antisocial behaviour, but other residents on the estate say teenagers need more facilities.

Woodstock Road resident Barbara Hitchcox, 59, set up the petition, called ‘Stop construction of any kind on Madley Park playing fields’, with three neighbours.

She said: “It’s one of the few green areas around here in an increasingly densely built-up area, and is used by a range of people playing sport and walking their dogs.

“We want to keep a little bit of something rural and stop it from being changed into an environment that many parents are concerned is going to attract anti-social behaviour.

“It’s near elderly people in the Blenheim Heights sheltered accommodation and the two schools. It’s a safe environment but that could change.”

The group behind the teen zone was set up in 2011 and includes West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney Town Council, Sovereign Housing Association and Madley Park Residents’ Association.

It held a consultation with residents and pupils at Wood Green School, Madley Brook Primary School and Springfield School.

Youngsters asked for a skate park but eventually agreed on a ‘sky surfer’ swing, a rotating swing that spins riders in a circle.

The £19,000 swing was paid for with money from the developer behind the 1,200 home estate, as well as other grants, but the plans for the shelter and further equipment will need extra funding.

Police and residents asked the town council to remove a shelter in The Leys recreation ground in January after reported antisocial behaviour and Mrs Hitchcox said lessons had not been learned by proposing a similar facility.

Madley Park Residents’ Association chairman David Bates said: “We have a play area for younger children but we desperately need facilities for teenagers because there’s currently nothing.

“We’re aware there’s been some incidents of antisocial behaviour and we want to provide some positive activities for young people to engage in.”

He added the graffiti wall may be scrapped after opposition from residents.

District council spokeswoman Carys Davies said residents’ concerns would be taken on board.

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Comments (3)

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2:10pm Wed 9 Jul 14

EMBOX2 says...

Yes, because ALL teenagers are tearaway menaces who beat up old ladies and thatsortofthing.

Come one oldies, you were young once (remember?) so don't begrudge younger people just because you might not like it, or probably more accurately, are afraid of what you don't understand.

Why don't you go and *talk* to the people who will use this facility, instead of assuming they're all hoodie wearing muggers?
Yes, because ALL teenagers are tearaway menaces who beat up old ladies and thatsortofthing. Come one oldies, you were young once (remember?) so don't begrudge younger people just because you might not like it, or probably more accurately, are afraid of what you don't understand. Why don't you go and *talk* to the people who will use this facility, instead of assuming they're all hoodie wearing muggers? EMBOX2
  • Score: 2

8:12am Thu 10 Jul 14

AngelB says...

Surely what few green spaces we have left in Witney should be for all residents to enjoy, not be set aside for one small group. Whatever behaviour may go on, good or bad (and seems evidence from The Leys indicates the latter is likely), it is going to make the area a no go for some others.

Some people, understandably, feel intimidated by gangs of youths why effectively exclude them from enjoying this open space which belongs to all of us?
Surely what few green spaces we have left in Witney should be for all residents to enjoy, not be set aside for one small group. Whatever behaviour may go on, good or bad (and seems evidence from The Leys indicates the latter is likely), it is going to make the area a no go for some others. Some people, understandably, feel intimidated by gangs of youths why effectively exclude them from enjoying this open space which belongs to all of us? AngelB
  • Score: 5

1:16pm Thu 10 Jul 14

maysie says...

The sky surfer is the opposite side to woodstock road side of the field. If it was up agaiinst their wall i could understand why they are worried. Build a wall of bushes around it and they probably won't notice the difference. Its a tiny corner of the field up against the footpath by madley brook school Do they really think scores of teenagers will arrive and cause mayhem? The sky surfer is the other side of some trees already to the Blenheim heights property. They may find its actually quieter as they teenagers won't be sat on in the little kids playground any more. I have walked past when teenagers are there and they are not even shouting just talking and a little laughter. I cannot see it will be any louder than when football is played on the field either. Madley park is very community minded. There will be a lot of self policing going on and phone calls to pcos to sort out any potential trouble as that is just the way we are here.
The sky surfer is the opposite side to woodstock road side of the field. If it was up agaiinst their wall i could understand why they are worried. Build a wall of bushes around it and they probably won't notice the difference. Its a tiny corner of the field up against the footpath by madley brook school Do they really think scores of teenagers will arrive and cause mayhem? The sky surfer is the other side of some trees already to the Blenheim heights property. They may find its actually quieter as they teenagers won't be sat on in the little kids playground any more. I have walked past when teenagers are there and they are not even shouting just talking and a little laughter. I cannot see it will be any louder than when football is played on the field either. Madley park is very community minded. There will be a lot of self policing going on and phone calls to pcos to sort out any potential trouble as that is just the way we are here. maysie
  • Score: 0

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