Officers from Thanet’s community safety team will be carrying out a visit to Dane Park in Margate to assess safety needs after the issue of broken lighting was raised with them by ward councillor David Wallin.
Areas of the park are plunged into darkness in the evenings because some of the lighting, including by the basketball courts, is broken.
One concerned resident said they believe the Kent County Council lights are in working order but those that are provided by Thanet council are not. However, it is understood there is some dispute over which authority is responsible for the broken lights.
Cllr Wallin has previously arranged for lights by the basketball area to be replaced but two have since blown again.
Last week a teenage girl in the park was the victim of a sexual assault and there have previously been other reports of assaults, robbery and vandalism.
In 2020 then-ward councillor Gary Taylor urged police and the Thanet Community Safety Partnership to take action following a string of assaults, fires, vandalism and issues with Traveller encampments at the park.
Now Cllr Wallin is also calling for measures to be taken and says he has gone directly to Kent Police in the hopes that it will be a swifter way of getting issues resolved.
Fellow ward councillor Ruth Duckworth has also been raising the lighting issue since September and is due, with other shadow cabinet members, to discuss the issue with Thanet council’s chief executive this week.
He said: “I will be having a meeting at Dane Park with Inspector Ian Swallow of Thanet Community Safety Unit, to look into the whole issue of safety – specifically for an assessment of a remedy to the current lighting issue.
“He is arranging a visit to the park with his team.
“The biggest issue is getting the lighting working. I do not know if the lack of lighting was anything to do with the attack on the teenage girl but getting it fixed could help prevent another incident.
“Another problem is where the leaves fall and aren’t cleared. They then mulch and make the path slippery and, of course, you can’t see whether it is slippery or not because there are no lights. Ideally these need removing.
“I am taking the issues up with Thanet council but have the police community safety unit looking at it too. It is all very well Thanet council saying it can’t afford to fix or install new lights but if the police say it has to be done then it will get done.”
Cllr Wallin is urging people to be cautious and not walk in the area alone when it is dark.
Resident Tim Surrey says he has been making complaints to Thanet council about the lack of lighting in the park for some five years.
He said: “it’s not a recent issue and the council have been ignoring it for years now. I’m not the only person who’s been complaining about it.
“I’d estimate 50% of the lights aren’t working in the park. I had an email saying there’s no money to fix the lights so it’s not going to happen.
“I’ve got emails going back over 5 years complaining about the lights as they’re never even close to all working. Does the council not have a responsibility to make sure the parks are safe and well lit?”
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Thanet District Council is responsible for a small number of streetlights in Dane Park in Margate. Our lighting contractor has investigated those lights that are currently non-operational.
“A temporary repair has been carried out while we wait for replacement lamps to be delivered and installed. We expect these works to be completed during December and January.”
Obviously getting the lights fixed will improve safety but the girl wasn’t attacked because the lights were broken, she was attacked because some men are predatory, violent and dangerous. Yes, get the lights fixed but let’s all look at calling out bad behaviour by men towards women, no matter how innocuous it may seem, and start changing attitudes. Telling women they can’t go out in the dark is not the answer.
No one said that was the answer or even suggested it was.
This problem is as old as time and solving it has always been difficult to achieve.
Calling out bad behaviour is not the answer either , your average sex offender will take no notice what-so-ever as their urges – what ever they are- are far stronger than a bit of finger wagging will cure.
Stronger prison sentences are required after the event but what do do to stop it in the first place?, I do not know.
In the meantime, better lighting in Dane Park will help in that area most certainly.
Or perhaps (a) Shut the parks after dark, and (b) have park keepers?
When l was a young lad, parks closed by 6 to 8pm later in the summer ,and always park keepers , l remember this because it was part of my father’s job working for the parks department at the council .
Exactly. I grew up in South London, and this was always the case.
About time the park was set up with camera’s, plenty installed on northdown road.
Not the answer but monitored camera would help in a small way
I can remember the tragic murder of Sonia Berry
In Dane Park there was talk of better lighting after her death.
Women need to be constantly aware that some men need to have
Their under carriage removed.
That would make them even angrier towards women than they were before.
Shona, not Sonia.
Exactly the same issues at St Peter’s Rec – pitch black, no lighting has ever been installed there, and the paths are hazardous.
Would help if the police 🚔 got out of their cars and do that thing called walking, police the park let people see police on foot day and night policing this park , drive by doesn’t work ,good old fashion policing is called for in the park and around thanet ,walk the streets and been seen .
Easy, fence the perimeters and lock the gates at dusk, like every other London park to avoid this very behavior. There is no excuse for violence, predatory attacks or drug use, these have happened for centuries but at least make the park secure.
There are reliable rumours around that when TDC wrote a contract for the maintenance of street lights under their control, it was decided at the last minute to add that once works were done the light should be washed down. However that late change became effectively the only item in the final contract that was awarded. £300,000 was paid out and in return lights were only cleaned.
This wasn’t a first hand tale but relayed by someone in the know. So may be a bit of chinese whispers in the mix.