VANDALS who destroyed six cherry trees in a town park have been slammed as “senseless and mindless”.
Six Japanese flowering cherry trees which were donated to the Blaenavon ‘Flower Park’ by community groups were ripped apart and destroyed a week last Sunday.
It happened just three days after a commemorative Platinum Jubilee Rowan tree planted in Abergavenny’s Linda Vista Gardens by town mayor Cllr Tony Konieczny was left vandalised within hours of it being planted.
Those who planted the cheery trees included Blaenavon Townswomen’s Guild to mark its 75th anniversary, the town’s community museum and Morris’s of Usk garden centre.
Blaenavon Friends of the Green and Blaenavon Horticultural Society, in partnership with Torfaen council, have been working on various planting schemes and improvements to the park.
And Torfaen councillor Janet Jones, who represents Blaenavon and is secretary of the horticultural society, said it was ‘devastating’ to see the damage.
“It’s just heartbreaking because people say we do an improvement and then you get a minority who come along and actually destroy everything,” she said.
“It’s absolutely senseless and mindless.”
The trees each cost around £60, funded by grants awarded to Friends of the Green and Blaenavon Horticultural Society as well as donations from local organisations.
It is not thought they can be replaced with the same type of tree.
Friends of the Green’s Stuart Evans said it is not the first time there have been incidents of vandalism in the park.
The town council also recently announced a statue depicting Blaenavon-born Lions winger and Olympic medal sprinter Ken Jones – sited in Broad Street – will be relocated after being targeted by vandals.
The town’s Christmas crib in Bethlehem Court was also removed last November after being vandalised.
Mr Evans said security improvements, such as installing CCTV cameras, need to be considered.
“Part of the problem is you can’t close the area off,” he said.
“They used to shut the gates, but because of budget constraints they will not do that.”
Craig Davis, community support officer with Gwent Police, said it will “look to conduct patrols in the area”.
A Gwent Police spokeswoman said it received a report on Sunday, May 29 at around 1.20pm, of criminal damage at Blaenavon Park.
“We’ll be conducting patrols in the area and anyone with information is asked to get in touch with us, either via 101 or a direct message on Facebook or Twitter,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Torfaen council said: “The council is aware of the trees being vandalised which is very disappointing, especially considering all the work community members have undertaken to improve the park.
“Officers will be working with partner organisations, local councillors and the community to look at options to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour in the park before replacing the trees in the autumn.”