Portsmouth probe launched after 'serious vandalism' and defecation at Southsea Rock Garden

VANDALS damaging trees and defecating in a popular beauty spot are being hunted by council workers.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 1:39 pm

Large plants have been uprooted and hacked at with branches snapped off at Southsea Rock Garden since last year.

Dismayed Portsmouth City Council workers have also been ‘regularly’ finding human excrement at the site, although it’s unclear if this is linked to the vandalism.

Now the net is drawing in on the lone or multiple culprits, with extra CCTV coverage and more lighting planned.

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A damaged yucca plant in the Rock Gardens in Southsea, Portsmouth. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

Old Portsmouth resident and author of a book on the gardens, Jackie Baynes, said the vandalism was ‘deplorable’.

She told The News: ‘You just can’t really get your head around it.

‘I suppose you just have to think those people aren’t in a good place but there’s no need for it.

‘I’m very saddened by it, it’s one of our much-loved garden features.’

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Mrs Baynes said the 93-year-old gardens, built by gangs of unskilled workers, was a ‘rare beast’ as not many rock gardens have survived as well.

‘It’s a beautiful, loved and treasured historic garden and I know that there are very, very many people in Portsmouth who absolutely love the Rock Gardens and so enjoy spending time there,’ she said.

‘It’s such a valuable place for wildlife as well, it’s deplorable and sad at the same time.’

The damage started in October, with a lull over winter, but it soon started up again.

There has been no damage this week but a mature yucca plant was found severely damaged on March 12.

A council spokesman said: ‘Since the vandalism began we have responded by targeted use of security guards to patrol the site at night.

‘Our community wardens have also been keeping a close eye on the area, and we have been working closely with police, who have increased their monitoring of the site.

‘We have been monitoring CCTV footage for evidence of who might be responsible.

‘We are working on ways of increasing CCTV coverage and improving lighting at the site in a bid to catch whoever is doing this.

‘The damage to the garden is distressing and we appreciate how it must be affecting residents and visitors who love the area.’

Signs are in place appealing for information about the night-time activity.

The council urged people to email [email protected] with information, or call 999 if anyone witnesses a crime happening at the gardens.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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