Within the last 2 years there has been several acts of vandalism to the Town Council owned private car park located in West Street. In November 2018, the swipe card machine which allows entry to the car park and activates an electrical barrier was vandalised beyond repair. The Council replaced this with a more secure fob entry system but at a considerable cost. The new system was installed on the 4 March 2019, and then the electrical barrier was stolen during the evening of the 9 April 2019. After an extensive search for the barrier with no luck, a new barrier was sourced and installed on the 18 April 2019. The old barrier was then found thrown over the cliff at the top of Cleeve Hill, showing a total disregard for Council property, and to those that this action is impacting on. After a quiet period, the vandalism has started again, 2 weeks ago the barrier was broken and there was evidence that a vehicle had forced entry into the car park. The barrier has been repaired and was reaffixed on Friday 17 July 2020. This morning (20 July 2020) Council staff discovered the barrier broken and the same unauthorised vehicle illegally parked in the car park. The Council are currently working with their Solicitor to have the vehicle removed, as the notices placed on the vehicle for it to be removed have been blatantly ignored. The Council are working closely with the Police to find the offender/s and it is believed that the offender/s live locally within Watchet.
The Town Council want to make the Watchet residents aware that it is their money that is paying for the replacement of such facilities, and if the vandalism doesn’t stop there may be serious implications to i.e. putting up rental charges for the car park, or as a last resort closing the West Street Car Park facility indefinitely. The Council do not want to do this, but may not have an option, as it cannot keep throwing money at this facility, it only has a limited budget, and this has been seriously compromised. Closing the car park would have a catastrophic impact as it is a vital resource clearly needed in and around West Street. The Council are currently exploring the cost of installing CCTV urgently, this action was put on hold initially as after consulting the users of the car park, feedback was not in favour of a camera being installed. The Town Council now has to revisit this as CCTV will assist in identifying the offender/s.
A Town Council spokesman said ‘the Town Council are therefore asking the public to be vigilant in reporting any incidents or suspicious behaviour to the Town Council Office or the Police, however minor, and let’s work together to keep Watchet safe for those living and working here. All information received will be in the strictest confidence. Watchet is an amazing community which is being threatened at the moment by a small minority who have no respect for the town or its people!!’
The message from the Town Council is simple, let us work together to make it stop!!