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Vandalism and community spirit at the heart of discussions in Turriff

By Kirsty Brown

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The rise in local incidents of vandalism was at the heart of this month's meeting of Turriff And District Community Council.

Members expressed their disappointment at the number of noted incidents of vandalism which have occurred since lockdown restrictions started to ease.

These have included issues in the Den playpark, at the Turriff Show grandstand and beside the Haughs football pitches.

Meetings have taken place between affected community groups, the police and Aberdeenshire Council to look at short term solutions however it was decided that it is time to start looking for more long term solutions.

While the group identified that those responsible must be held accountable for their actions and the distress which they have caused to the wider community, the conversation quickly turned to ways to reduce such instances in the future.

Members of the community council felt that it was important to highlight that it is only a very small portion of people who are involved and that not all young people - the demographic it is believed have been carrying out the vandalism - feel attacked.

It was noted that feedback from the community suggested that there was little in the way of free activities to engage teens in the area, and that setting up such activities could help in some way to reduce the 'boredom'.

Members discussed that previous attempts to engage young people with free rugby and football sessions had been largely ineffective in targetting 'bored teens' as most of those who attended were already involved in these sports and it was agreed that the community should look at hosting some free events and activities aimed at those in community whose interests lie outside of sports.

It was noted that many young people in the town have an interest in cars and that motor events could be an effective way of engaging with many of the town's young population who have previously felt shunned by residents.

A creative outlet, similar to the former Theatre Modo in Peterhead, was also suggested to engage non sports oriented youngsters.

Reminiscing the group also suggested that the establishment of a youth club style space where young people can go to 'just hang out' with their friends and not be engaged in a specific activity could also be beneficial.

Councillors voiced their support for proposals, and councillor Alastair Forsyth said: "Unfortunately it's not just Turriff where this is happening, we see something similar across the area and it's a real shame."

After the heartbreak of the damage sustained to play equipment purchased by Friends Of The Den, the group have been singing the praises of the community as they've rallied round to offer their support.

After the announcement that the playdeck - which the group raised £37,000 to purchase and install - had sustained fire damage and somebody had forcefully removed the beater from the xylophone the group were overwhelmed with offers of donations to rectify the damage.

The group have expressed their thanks to local businesses The Good Sleep Company, Lux Hair And Beauty and Turra Market who have all contributed financially to purchasing the necessary parts and Christie Landscapes who have offered to install the new parts without charge.

Following this news it was shared that the play park had once again been targeted by vandals who had upturned some of the surrounding benches - which weigh approximately 75kg each - and even put one of them in the burn.

After hearing the news members of Turriff Rugby Club made their way over to the play park following a training session to help move the benches back into position and remove the bench from the water.

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