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Saltney residents set up 'Friends of the Rec’ community group

Group is aiming to stamp out antisocial behaviour

A newly-formed Saltney community group is aiming to stamp out anti-social behaviour and make big improvements to the towns recreation ground. L-R: Saltney town councillor Barrie Gregory Snr, Saltney Stonebridge county councillor, Veronica Gay, Shaun Hingston, 14, Friends of the Rec chair, Amanda Edwards, secretary Rachel Jennings and treasurer Sirrena Finnegan

A newly-formed Saltney community group is aiming to stamp out anti-social behaviour and make big improvements to the town’s recreation ground.

Tired of the evening and night-time behaviour of youths who congregate on the Park Avenue recreation ground, a few mums, community leaders and youngsters have formed a group calling themselves Friends of the Rec which is looking to make big changes to the public facility.

The idea for the action group came from Shaun Hingston, 14, whose mum Amanda Edwards chairs the new venture.

Shaun says he wants a place where young people can go which isn’t blighted by anti-social behaviour.

He said: “I was doing my Duke of Edinburgh Award and approached Cllr Veronica Gay for an idea and community project to look at.

“The problem with the Rec is the play equipment, like the swings and slide, are very old and although we have a big grass area there are no football pitches marked out and there’s nowhere to go when it rains.

“We want an area we can use and where gangs don’t meet up in the evening. It’s horrible at night most Saltney kids just stay away anyway.”

Amanda Edwards says local people aren’t making the most out of the facility due to evening anti-social behaviour and inconsiderate dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets.

She said: “We have decided to do something about it and formed a group, Friends of the Rec, with 10 committee members. We now have 85 Facebook members and that number is growing.

“The idea is to raise funds and put on events. We have already held two picnic days and we are organising monthly litter picks. And in October we are going to hold an all day craft event.

“The local football team, Saltney Town, have been very supportive and helpful and we’d certainly like to set out a children’s pitch on the Rec in the future.”

But according to Amanda evening anti social behaviour is the biggest issue the community group currently faces.

She said: “We are seeing gangs of 15 to 20 year olds, too young for the pub and too old for youth clubs, gathering on the play area. We are finding evidence of drinking, drug taking, smoking and even sexual activity with used condoms littering the area.

“The noise is causing problems and complaints so we, as a group, have approached them and tried to talk to them but quite frankly the majority aren’t from Saltney.”

Friends of the Rec treasurer, Sirrena Finnegan and secretary, Rachel Jennings, say their homes back onto the Rec and they are keeping a log of incidents.

Sirrena said: “Its most nights and the majority of the time. We call the police but it’s classed as low priority and usually, by the time they turn up, they have all gone.

“We have had motor bikes being ridden around the field, fireworks and general noise and anti-social behaviour. We hope, as a group, we can turn things around and develop the facility.”

Flintshire County Council’s Saltney Stonebridge councillor Veronica Gay and members of the town council are working with Friends of the Rec and are hoping to see improvements made to the area.

Cllr Gay said: “What we are talking about is under investment that goes back a long, long time. It is a big grassed area and we could do so much more with it that would benefit the whole community.

“However, I agree we need to sort out the anti-social behaviour and we need to get dog owners to clean up after their pets. Then let’s use the space we have available to improve what the community can do with their recreation ground.

“I’d like to see a children’s football pitch marked out and perhaps a picnic area. Currently there is nowhere to sit, no benches or seats, and nowhere to go to get out of a rain shower or hot sun.”

She added: “I’m sure if we as a group can raise some funds then we can improve the Rec for the whole Saltney community.”

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