Vandals target allotment used by people with learning disabilities in Harborough for the second time in a fortnight

The criminals smashed windows in a shed, attacked a security camera, wrecked a first aid kit and destroyed tables and chairs

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 1:10 pm

Vandals who have targeted a precious allotment used by people with learning disabilities in Market Harborough for the second time in a fortnight are being hunted by police.

The criminals smashed windows in a shed, attacked a security camera, wrecked a first aid kit and destroyed tables and chairs.

They have struck again just two weeks after leaving a shocking trail of destruction at the much-loved allotment on Stevens Street, off Logan Street, Market Harborough.

Some of the damage done by the vandals on their second raid.

The “mindless” late-night assault has outraged Marie Norman.

She has been using the garden for nine years after setting up Freedom Support, which supports people with learning disabilities and mental health issues, in Market Harborough in 2011.

“I’m almost lost for words.

“It was cruel enough to have our beloved allotment attacked over the Easter weekend,” Marie told the Harborough Mail.

Some of the damage done by the vandals on their second raid.

“But to be singled out again just two weeks later is soul-destroying.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“We’d set our hearts on taking the people we work with back up there this week.

“But we clearly cannot do that now,” said Marie.

“They were really looking forward to going back to our allotment as well after missing out last week because of the first incident.

“The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful and they couldn’t wait to get back out into the fresh air after the latest lockdown.

“And now these idiots go back at the weekend and hit us again.

“It is so annoying, so frustrating,” said Marie.

“They’ve smashed our shed windows, strewn our first aid box all over the place and destroyed a security camera.

“The vandals have also smashed up the tables and chairs they didn’t bother to break up at Easter.

“I am at the end of my tether.

“We also got attacked before Christmas.

“How can we make plans for taking our people up there when we don’t know if it’s going to be in one piece?

“Moronic attacks like these just rip up all our plans in half.

“It beggars belief.”

The latest incident comes after a gang went on a drinking spree at the allotment over the Easter weekend - wreaking damage running into hundreds of pounds.

The offenders broke up tables and chairs and destroyed first aid boxes as well as other valuable equipment.

“Security obviously has to be stepped up at this site on Stevens Street because we cannot go on like this.

“It’s becoming simply unsustainable.

“There has been anti-social behaviour and trouble at other places in Market Harborough recently – such as Little Bowden rec,” said Marie.

“And it seems to have spilled out elsewhere into the town as well.

“We’ll have to talk to the Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity, which owns the site, and the police about they are going to urgently tackle this growing problem.”

She said her 50 or so clients who go to the allotment regularly – sometimes two or three times a week – will be forced to stay away for the foreseeable future.

“They are vulnerable people of all ages ranging from 18 or even younger all the way up to 60 or 70.

“They all love going to the Stevens Street allotment and they’ve been very upset by this,” said Marie.

“The vandals who hit us two weeks ago also smashed up bottles and scattered shattered glass over the place – it’s outrageous.

“Why do people carry out this sort of devastating damage?

“What the heck do they get out of it?

“It’s such a huge shame because Market Harborough is such a great place for people with learning disabilities.

“Most people know our allotment is used by people with learning disabilities and people struggling with their mental health.

“It’s been a priceless outdoors space in the sunshine we’ve been able to use for clients throughout this Covid pandemic,” said Marie, the director and owner of Lathkill Street-based Freedom Support.

“We work alongside the county council’s education department with our clients growing some fantastic veg there.

“People love going there to see each other, have a chat and catch up over a cuppa while tending their flowers, plant and veg.

“They can be up there all day in the summer and even take a picnic to tuck into and enjoy.

“But now all of this is being thrown into serious danger by a moronic minority.”

If you would like to make a financial donation to help fund essential repairs and new kit or help to clean up the seriously-damaged allotment please email Marie at [email protected]

John Feavyour, chairman of Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity, vowed that they take security very seriously and are constantly seeking to improve it.

You can find out more about Marie’s training academy Freedom Support here: Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: “Officers are carrying out further enquiries after some damage was caused to an allotment in Stevens Street, Market Harborough, on two occasions.

“A bench was damaged sometime between 28 March and 1 April and sometime over the weekend further damage was caused to a shed and CCTV camera.

“If anyone has information about the incidents they are asked to contact 101, quoting crime number 21*180894.”