A WORKING partnership between Tavistock residents and teenagers could be on the cards in order to stamp out vandalism in the Meadows.

Last week, on a daily basis, minor damage was caused across areas of the public park, including at Tavistock Sensory Garden.

Incidents included a piece of children’s play equipment being set alight, at a cost of £500, and the repeated theft of the sensory garden’s new bench, costing £150 to repair.

The garden, which has a wide range of uses for the community from education to recreation, was a joint initiative two years ago between Tavistock Town Council, Tavistock Lions Club, Tavistock Rotary Club, Roots to Transition and Tavistock Dementia Action Alliance.

Chairperson of the garden, Graham Parker, said witnesses to the theft said that the incident was committed by a group of young people — but he felt that instead of staging ‘war’ with the youth of Tavistock he wanted to find a way to work with the community young and old to make everyone take ownership and pride in the area.

The bench was installed on November 12 but within 24-hours it had been removed twice and then found floating down the canal by Tavistock College.

Mr Parker said: ‘I’m a very patient person but, bored youngsters or not, this vandalism is a crime against everybody in Tavistock who supports and uses the garden.

‘The table has been damaged but is repairable, at a cost of £150.

‘I don’t want to go to war with anyone as I don’t believe that the damage done to the table was deliberate but what I believe should be done is to work closer with the schools and explain the importance of the area and the sensory garden and allow them to take over the area under our guidance.’

Mr Parker has approached Tavistock College to engage some of the local youth and find a way forward to protect the area from vandalism in the future: ‘I’ve been talking with the school about working together so hopefully something good will come out of this.’

Vice principal at Tavistock College Tristan Forster said: ‘We have a meeting booked next week with student leaders from the school, and Graham, to meet and discuss some of the things that would have a positive impact on the community.

‘We will talk through what the young people would like or need in the Meadows and take that forward.

‘The school is constantly striving to improve community links.’

Principal Sarah Jones said: ‘I look forward to working with Tavistock Sensory Garden because we work tirelessly with young people to inform them of their responsibilities in the community.’

A police spokesperson added: ‘There has been a lot of minor damage on a daily basis [at the Meadows].

‘If anyone sees anything going on then contact the police,’ said the spokesperson.