Squatters trash playground building

Published: 24 January 2013

Squatters who were yesterday (Wednesday) evicted from their illegal camp at Battersea Park’s adventure playground have left behind a squalid and disgusting mess.

The squatters have vandalised furniture and ransacked the single storey play building within the playground site.

A sofa has been spray painted with obscene anti-police messages, while filing cabinets have been emptied and furniture and other fixtures left damaged. Mess and dirt has been spread over floors.

The clean-up operation is an extra burden for local taxpayers who have already been landed with a £30,000 bill as a result of the squatters' unlawful occupation of the playground.

This is money that will have to be found from already hard-pressed budgets - including the budget set aside to improve and maintain the 200 other playgrounds across Wandsworth.

These costs could increase further when the neighbouring Battersea Park one o'clock centre is recovered from the small group of squatters who broke in there earlier this week in defiance of the court order evicting them from the adventure playground.

The presence of these remaining squatters means that the one o'clock centre and the adjacent toddler's playground have had to remain closed to local families and other visitors to the park.

The council's children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "Unfortunately these protestors have shown their true colours. Trashing a children's play building is pretty disgusting behaviour.

"They claimed they were occupying the playground for some high moral cause - but now it looks like they were more interested in making a mess and damaging things. The play building looks like a bomb's hit it."

The squatters have been supported throughout by the pressure group Wandsworth Against Cuts (WAC) which argues that the council should not be making any spending reductions even though the UK's public finances are in the midst of the most severe financial crisis since the Second World War.

This group's material support for the squatters has helped ensure that work to install £200,000 worth of new play equipment at the playground has suffered serious delays. The timetable to reopen the newly refurbished playground in time for the start of the school Easter holidays is now in serious jeopardy.