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Park users' safety fears over Bexley open spaces being left unlocked
Parks and open spaces across Bexley will be left unlocked at night from September 1 as the council looks to save £200,000 a year.
Staff at the Danson Stables and park users across the borough have voiced concerns about the measures which see the contract with Ward Security terminated after 18 years.
Stacy Hall, 24, of Lovel Avenue, Welling, works at the Danson Stables restaurant and is worried for the staff's safety.
She said: "Seeing the park security makes us feel safe. If we ever have any trouble we know we can call on them and they will be there. The pub will suffer when they go."
Lucinda Howes, 21, of Hawthorn Road, Bexleyheath, who also works at the pub said: "We don't often get people in here after 10pm. It's our security which will be at risk.
"The security will often escort staff out of the restaurant when we finish because you don't know who is hanging around.
"I think vandalism in the park will increase as a result of this stupid decision."
Ruby Hills, 51, of Albion Road, Bexleyheath, who uses the park regularly for cycling and dog walking said: "This is such a beautiful park and leaving the gates open at night means it will be destroyed.
"Goodness only knows what people will get up to in here if the gates are left open."
Gareth Bacon, councillor for community safety and leisure, told News Shopper: "There are 104 parks and open spaces across Bexley and currently there are only 23 that are locked nightly.
"They are patrolled by Ward Security and that is the contract which has been terminated.
"It will save the council £200,000 a year.
"Our budget has been cut by one third from central government and more money has gone towards social services.
"This has been a difficult decision but we have had to take a good hard look at these cuts.
"There is currently no barbed wire or electric fencing on any of Bexley's parks so if people want to get into them they can if they really want to.
"This decision is not really going to make much difference but on the other hand I don't really want to be doing it."
Caroline Worthington, chief executive for Bexley Heritage, said: "We are aware of the recent decision by Bexley Council to leave parks across the borough open from September.
"The trust is also conscious of the concerns of locals residents and groups.
"Danson House benefits from its own secure – and recently enhanced – perimeter within the park.
"We will monitor the situation closely once the change to parks management is in place."
David Ward, managing director for Ward Security added: "We have been responsible for park security in Bexley for the last 18 years and enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the council. "On our watch the parks are regularly patrolled and monitored as well as locked overnight for safety.
"Clearly, we are disappointed that due to budgetary constraints the council has decided to remove park security. "In terms of the future employment of the Bexley Parks security team, as an investor in people gold employer it is always our policy to redeploy employees elsewhere within the business when contracts come to an end."
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