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Claire Jarvis of the Lido writes: Following on from your piece about the allotment hut thefts, The Lido also had a break-in on either Thursday or Friday night last week. Nothing was stolen but our pool cover was pushed into the empty pool. A completely pointless act of vandalism which would have involved several people as the cover is so heavy it cant be moved by just one person. We dont know yet how much damage has been done to the cover itself or to the lining of the pool. Normally the pool would have been full of water, but at the moment its drained down in preparation for fitting the new coping stones. This means that it will have hit the bottom of the pool without any cushioning effect of the water. We wont be able to assess the damage until we can get it upright which will involve either a crane or a rugby team of strong men. Then we have to work out how to get it out of the pool without causing further damage to the poolside. If the main steel beam has broken, then well need a new cover. For the trustees this is depressing, frustrating, time-consuming and potentially very costly. The people of this town have worked hard to keep The Lido open for the benefit of everyone in the community. They have campaigned, raised funds over several years, and many people have volunteered their valuable time to help with the current programme of renovation. Despite all this, a small minority continue to get their kicks by causing pointless damage. In the past we have encouraged kids who break in to come back and use The Lido as legitimate customers and to see for themselves that they can enjoy it too. In consultation with the excellent PC Simon Towers, we have given warnings but not pressed charges, taking the view that The Lido belongs to these kids as much as to everyone else and that we need to foster their sense of ownership of the facility. I have to say that our liberal attitude is being sorely tried and that we may well decide to adopt a less tolerant approach in future.
CLEARING UP AFTER THE VANDALS
Monday 18th December. Claire Jarvis writes: Well weve got the pool cover out thanks to JP Lifting of Banbury who did us a great deal. The good news is that the main steel beam around which the cover wraps seems OK. Theres damage to the wooden top which well need to fix. Some damage to the tiles on the pool floor, but otherwise the pool itself seems alright. At this stage it looks as though the damage will run to hundreds, not thousands, so weve probably got off lightly. Nonetheless, the trustees have wasted a lot of time sorting this out over the past week time which could have been put to better use getting on with our refurbishment programme. Anyone with information about who was responsible for pushing the cover in can call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.
VANDALISM BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
The Lido and the Allotments - both of which were hit by vandalism earlier in December - have both been hit again. In exactly the same way. Sheds were broken into and hundreds of poundsworth of valuable equipment stolen for the second time on Boxing Day at the allotments. The news has been kept quiet until now because so many of the allotment holders were away over the holiday and their sheds needed checking and securing. The swimming pool has been broken into and vandalised some time over the holiday period. This followed a previous incident with the pool cover which involved hiring a crane to lift the cover and its mechanism out of the pool. The Police have issued the following statement about the Lido incident:
Police are appealing for information after vandals attacked the Chipping Norton swimming pool for a second time in as many months. Offenders struck at the swimming pool sometime over the festive period, pushing the cover into the pool causing damage once again, says PC David Tustian, Chipping Norton Neighbourhood Officer. A similar incident occurred in December and these mindless acts of vandalism will not be tolerated. Anti-social behaviour is Chipping Nortons top priority to be tackled as recently identified by local residents. We are determined to catch the persons responsible on both occasions and I appeal to you to get in touch if you have any information. Anyone with information is asked to either contact PC David Tustian on 0845 505 505 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Claire Jarvis of the Lido writes to us: This time two doors were kicked down and the office broken into. Weve had to board up the building and will now be making an insurance claim for new doors, locks, etc. All this takes time and effort which could be much better spent developing the facility and the services we can offer. My intention on Friday morning was to complete an application were making for funding to pay for a free weekly pool party night for young people throughout next summer. In the end, I spent most of the morning with the police and then contacting colleagues to make the premises secure. By the time I reached my desk I felt angry, dispirited and at risk of losing all goodwill towards the young people of Chipping Norton. Obviously those responsible for these mindless acts are a tiny minority amongst the many young people in the town, but their actions impact upon everyone. The Lido belongs to the community we are an open, democratic, charitable organisation; anyone can become a member and stand for election as a director; everyone is welcome to get involved and have their say. We aim to provide for as many people as possible, from mums and toddlers through to the over 60s. Whilst the young people intent on causing so much damage may not want to use The Lido themselves now, in ten years time when they have children of their own, it may be a different story. No doubt the same applies to the allotments. If we are to protect our community and its assets, we have to foster a zero-tolerance attitude towards vandalism amongst young people as well as adults.
Someone will know whos been involved with these incidents and I would urge anyone with any information to contact the police and help put a stop to this wave of anti-social behaviour.