Children’s football club in Harborough are once again forced to clear rubbish – including broken glass – off their pitches
They are now urgently calling for more police and council support as the club’s coaches and other staff are forced to mount major clean-ups of their pitches every weekend
A grassroots children’s football club in Market Harborough has slammed youths repeatedly scattering rubbish – including broken glass – all over their pitches.
Aaron Buffery, 38, hit out after the latest incident of anti-social behaviour happened at Borough Alliance Junior Football Club’s fields at Symington’s Recreation Ground off St Mary’s Road at the weekend.
He is now urgently calling for more police and council support as the club’s coaches and other staff are forced to mount major clean-ups of their pitches every weekend.
“We definitely need more help because this is getting out of hand.
“I am going to speak out about this growing problem because it needs to be highlighted – not swept under the carpet,” said Aaron, of Market Harborough.
“This is not just about rubbish being strewn everywhere.
“It’s also dangerous and it poses a serious threat to the 400 children that we look after here as well as to the wider public and nearby residents.”
The dad-of-two said trouble flared again across the weekend.
“We were greeted at 8am on Sunday morning when we turned up with broken bottles, bottle caps, cans, rubbish and hippy crack canisters.
“We’ve also had used condoms and drugs paraphernalia thrown around in the past,” said Aaron.
“The huge amount of rubbish dumped at the weekend was spread across three pitches.
“Broken glass bottles were rammed down into the ground.
“An upset home owner from Andrew Macdonald Close came to see us.
“She told us that three large groups - more than 20 individuals - had been at the ground all Saturday afternoon and into the evening.
“She tried to get through to the police on the phone but couldn’t and told us she filed an incident report online.
“But the police were slow to respond and when they finally drove up after 11pm the vandals just ran away.
“This is yet another incident and it has been getting worse - every weekend we have to clear up this horrible mess.
“It is also creating a danger for dog walkers,” said Aaron, who also coaches the club’s Under-10s team and sits on the committee.
“Police patrols and CCTV seem to be either non-existent or poorly managed.
“We have been suffering this sort of despicable behaviour at Symington’s rec for ages.
“We have suggested that the park could be closed off on a night by locking the gates at Connaught Road and other exits.
“We get told that the park is a main throughfare and can’t be shut.
“But I certainly wouldn’t walk through there by myself at 11pm on a night – so I don’t know who else will,” insisted Aaron.
“There are CCTV cameras but they aren’t monitored – so they are not much use.
“The police have promised us a dedicated ASBO car to tackle bad behaviour in Market Harborough.
“But that seems to have disappeared into thin air.
“We have a huge duty of care to the boys and girls who come here.
“We coach them on a Saturday morning and play matches on a Sunday morning.
“Borough Alliance FC is a fantastic asset and a huge positive for Market Harborough,” added Aaron.
“We’ve got about 400 youngsters – and as a not-for-profit set-up we only charge £2 a session.
“The kids love it.
“But our hearts sink when we’re forced to turn up early every Saturday and Sunday morning to pick up all the rubbish ourselves.
“I love Market Harborough – it’s a great town.
“But people need to know what’s going on here with a sizeable minority of youths causing this sort of trouble week in week out.
“The police can take pictures of empty parks and post them up on social media saying it’s all quiet at any time.
“Officers should be there at 11pm at night or later when groups of youths turn up.
“Why should people be too intimidated and too scared to go into their local park?
“It’s not right and it’s not acceptable.
“We know what’s going on here because we are in the front line when we pitch up first thing on Saturday and Sunday mornings to be confronted by rubbish scattered all over.
“So we need more support from the police as well as the council if we are going to stamp this out.”
A Leicestershire Police spokesman said that no one had reported any incidents to them at Symington’s rec at the weekend.
“Leicestershire Police has received a number of reports recently about anti-social behaviour, which has been reflected across the UK as Covid restrictions have been eased.
“Officers continue to carry out proactive patrols throughout the region.
“We work alongside Harborough District Council’s community safety team to maintain a safe and welcoming environment,” said the spokesman.
“A letter has also been written to schools reminding students and parents about the current Covid legislation.
“Off-licenced premises have also been contacted to ensure they are extra vigilant as to who they are selling alcohol to.”
A Harborough council spokesman said last month: “With the recreation ground being a well-used public space, the club has raised some issues regarding litter which we will continue to address through our normal enforcement processes and through education campaigns moving forward.
“Grassroots sport is important and we will continue to try to support Borough Alliance FC in their ambitions for the club.
“With this in mind, we are encouraging the club to continue dialogue with us with respect to any concerns they have relating to the site and their future plans.”