Anger after elderly bowls players abused by group of youths

A youngster cycling on the bowling green pictured by one of the bowls players
A youngster cycling on the bowling green pictured by one of the bowls players
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Elderly bowls players were sworn at and intimidated by a group of youths during a match at Central Park.

Swift and significant action by Peterborough City Council is needed to prevent the “rack and ruin” of the park, according to local player Bob Hillier, who warned that his club Park Crescent Bowlers could fold if nothing is done.

His remarks follow Monday evening’s match between his club and West Ward Bowls Club which was regularly disrupted by a group of youths walking and cycling across the green, with players in their 70s being verbally abused.

Mr Hillier said: “We are now left in a position where many members are refusing to play in the park due to this intimidating behaviour while other clubs will simply not come down to compete against us – effectively destroying our club.

“Unless action is taken now by the council our bowls club will fold and the park which has been enjoyed by so many for several generations will become a virtual ‘no go area’.”

West Ward player Vincent Edwards (51) of Gunthorpe said: “A lot of youths were playing loud music and walking up and down the green.

“We told them to get off but they hurled abuse. They started getting on their bikes and riding across the green.

“Some of the older people tried to phone the police but found the police were not interested. They felt so intimidated some of them are thinking of quitting.”

A council spokeswoman said a new Public Spaces Protection Order will allow authorised council staff to take action against anti-social behaviour in the park.

She added: “A new fence is already ordered for the bowling green which is set for installation later this month.”

Tony Forster, chairman of Friends of Central Park, said the fence will prevent further problems for bowls players.

He added: “We’ve had some problems over the last couple of years but things are improving. The police have been supportive but do not have adequate resources.”

Park ward city councillor John Peach said: “This is a very regrettable incident and I have been in touch with the police who promised to increase regular patrols. I’m also investigating the possibility of the park being part of the upgrade of the city’s CCTV system.”

Park ward councillor Richard Ferris said attempts should be made to engage with the youths. But he added: “However, in the short-term, we need an enhanced police and/or Amey staff presence in the park. Yes, it has cost implications, but so does this damage to the park’s reputation.”

A Cambridgeshire Police spokeswoman said she could not find a record of the incident so was unable to issue a response at this stage.