21 September 2022

Police investigating 'senseless vandalism' of Bega Valley toilet blocks and playgrounds

| Claire Fenwicke
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destroyed toilet

The Mogareeka boat ramp toilets needed a full interior replacement before they could open again. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

“Senseless vandalism” has continued to plague the Bega Valley Shire, with children’s playgrounds and toilet blocks targeted and, in some cases, destroyed.

A fire was set in the Ford Park toilet block in Merimbula on Sunday evening (18 September), with the local fire brigade called to put it out.

A council statement said this was an “unacceptable waste” of resources that could be better spent on community projects.

“It also has a distressing impact on vulnerable community members who rely on toilet blocks being open,” it said.

“The amenities block at Ford Park is widely used by local residents, visitors and sporting groups, and seeing it forced to close while repairs are undertaken this week is upsetting.”

A children’s swing-set has also had to be removed from Girraween Park in Bega at the weekend, after part of its frame was hacked into by unknown vandals.

destroyed toilet

A toilet block was set on fire at Ford Park in Bega. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

It’s after toilet blocks across the Bega Valley Shire were vandalised and smashed beyond repair earlier this month, prompting local council to get police involved.

Three Eden public amenities and one apiece in Mogareeka and Bermagui have been vandalised and forced to close in the past month while repairs were undertaken.

Bega Valley Shire Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the “senseless vandalism” was an unnecessary drain on public funds.

“We’ve had enough damage to shire infrastructure through natural disasters and we certainly cannot afford to add intentional damage to our list of expenses,” he said.

“Whoever is doing this, whether one person or a group, should understand that money spent to repair needless vandalism comes from our general fund.”

He said not only would money have to be diverted away from public projects to repair the toilets, but this especially had an impact on the community’s more vulnerable people.

“Aged residents in particular rely on toilet blocks being open and having them unexpectedly close can cause distress,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“Perhaps the people who continue to vandalise our public toilet blocks will reconsider their actions if they see vandalism as potentially impacting a grandparent or family member.”

READ ALSO Max Goward awarded for 50 years spent repairing Bega Valley roads

The Mogareeka boat ramp toilet block was “smashed beyond repair” last month. They’ve recently reopened following a full interior replacement.

Cr Fitzpatrick described the damage as “unacceptable”.

“Each of the incidents has been reported to the local police, who are currently investigating and calling for information,” he said.

The other incidents were at Bermagui Apex Park, Eden Scout Hall, Aslings Beach and Barclay Sports Pavilion.

The damaged Eden toilet blocks are closed awaiting repairs.

Anyone with information regarding any of these acts of vandalism have been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or your local police.

swing set at Girraweek Park, Bega

A swing set has now been removed from Girraween Park in Bega after it was vandalised. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

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