“Mindless vandals” have been ruining Dunstable’s beautiful floral displays – and residents hope the incidents will stop with Anglia In Bloom looming on the horizon.
On Monday, the Town Ranger Services removed the petunia and begonia floral displays in the Ashton Square car park, because the containers had been vandalised twice in just one weekend.
The Quadrant is looking at removing its three tiered flower bed, after vandals have repeatedly thrown its contents across the shopping centre.
John Crawley, Head of Grounds and Environmental Services for Dunstable Town Council, said: “The Ashton Square flower display was installed on May 30, and the theme for this year was quite a lot of red and white, as part of the theme for remembrance and peace with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.
“The vandalism has happened once or twice before but not to the same extent; this time, all ten containers were targeted.
“The first incident happened early on Saturday morning, and we think some volunteers, possibly some ‘In Bloomers’ put the display right before we got to it, which is fantastic.
“However, it happened again sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning.
“The flowers were mostly broken, because they landed upside down on the ground.
“It’s a complete mystery to me why anybody would want to damage beautiful floral displays. It makes no sense whatsoever.”
The Rangers are hoping to salvage enough flowers to fill seven containers.
Some plants have been taken to recover, with plans to place them in a secluded area.
John added: “The police are looking at the CCTV that might be available. The Anglia in Bloom judges are coming in July; if vandals leave the town alone it will look beautiful.”
The Quadrant has also faced problems. Jason Buckley, centre manager, said: “We have had a number of incidents where youths of an evening just come in and rip plants out of our new three-tier planter, throwing them round the shopping centre.
“I’m considering removing it; it was only put out last Wednesday morning, but when I came in on Thursday it had been vandalised.I have replanted it now three times.
“It’s disappointing, because we’re trying to lift the shopping centre, and have installed new benches and new stainless steel bins. We are about to embark on a phase 2 of our redecoration project.
“However, on Sunday night [June 10], we had all the electric cables ripped out from four of our columns. They are strapped to columns in the central atrium, but whoever it was had snapped the banding and pulled them down. Those electrical cables are live and could cause serious injury.
“Additionally, the waste bins in the service yard (which are chained to the wall with hoops) had their hoops pulled out of the walls and the bins were dragged to one side so that access could be gained to the roof. People went up and caused additional damage. Someone also smashed a window.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent vast amounts of money in repairing damage across the centre.”
A Bedfordshire Police spokesman, said: “We have received a report of criminal damage in Ashton Square in Dunstable, and we have spoken to the victim. This will now be assigned to an officer who will carry out a number of lines of enquiry to try to identify those responsible.
“If anyone has any information about the incident, we’d urge them to call 101 quoting reference number: 40/4376/18. Alternatively visit www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report
“We are investigating the criminal damage at the Quadrant Shopping Centre. Anyone with any information should contact police on 101, quoting crime reference number 40/4607/18.”