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Angry Resident Cuts Chains That Kept Effingham’s KGV Car Park Closed

Published on: 23 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Gates open to KGV users

By Chris Dick

After weeks of complaints from a few highly vocal residents about the chains keeping the main King George V (KGV) car park gates closed, they were cut off on Wednesday, July 22.

The three sturdy chains with padlocks were forcibly removed in the early hours, to the obvious relief to locals who had been obliged to park in Browns Lane and considered the chained gates a danger.

Message left to protect the innocent

Written on the park surface in chalk paint was: “Opened by James Nicholls”, who lives close by.

James Nicholls displays the grinder used to cut the chains

Mr Nicholls readily acknowledged that he had done the deed. “The previous day I went out and bought a brand new £20 angle grinder, purposefully and premeditatedly to cut the locks on the gate. I bought it specifically to do the job.”

Asked why he had done the damage to the gate and written the message, he said: “To make sure no one else could be accused of my actions. We were all hacked off with the chaos [of the parked cars] outside here. We’ve had a dustcart on fire and the fire brigade unable to put the fire out because of the chaos in Browns Lane.”

Mr Nicholls added that he had called police to explain his actions.

Four officers arrived at his home, saying they were arresting him. “Then two of the officers interviewed me for about an hour,” Mr Nicholls said. “I asked them why they wanted to arrest me and pointed out the playing fields are owned by the people of Effingham.

“They said it was criminal damage and I told them you can’t prosecute someone for criminal damage if they own the property.

Drivers using Browns Lane to park whilst gates to KGV remained closed

“Then I explained to them the details of the the trust deed documents. In the end, they were so perplexed they gave up. They said to me, ‘Mr Nichols you are free to go, we have better things to do’.”

But they advised him to re-secure the gates that night. “The police said I would be in a lot of trouble if the fields were broken into. So I re-secured them last night with a big chain and padlock which I took off this morning.

“Then I made them aware that I had taken total responsibility. And that I care about our community. In short, I bamboozled them.”

Later, on the Effingham Residents Association website, the Effingham Village Recreational Trust (EVRT), who manage the playing fields and buildings, stated: ‘The trustees do recognise the inconvenience to the residents of Effingham caused by the prolonged closure of the car park.

“This has been due to government guidelines, the threat of traveller incursion and planned additional security work to the gates at both the Browns Lane and A246 entrances. We thank residents for their support and understand the frustration caused by the closure.

The threat of incursion has been present for many years and the trustees decided it was time to install higher-level security to properly protect the grounds and save the costs and inconvenience of the clean-up that is required after such incursions. We applied for and recently received a grant to support the cost of this work.

“In the interim, residents will have seen the log barriers that were used to block the entrances, at a cost for each placement and removal. It has been unfortunate that the planned security installation has now been delayed twice.

“We have been reviewing when to open the car park on a weekly basis and decided it was best to keep the car park closed until the disruption caused by the security installation had passed.

At a trustee Zoom meeting on Tuesday night, we took the decision that the car park would be re-opened on Saturday, July 25, regardless of whether the security installation had occurred. Thankfully, we have had confirmation that installation would take place on Thursday, July 23.

“But we found one of the residents of Effingham has taken matters into his own hands and cut the chains/padlocks [and] cut the locking latch on the gate. While this has allowed the gate to be opened, it has caused significant damage resulting in the need for the Trust to incur further costs to replace locks and repair the gate. In addition, valuable police time has been taken by attending what is regarded as a crime scene.

“The trustees are responsible for the safety of the public at KGV and for the security of the grounds. As such, we must reserve the right to change access to hall, the grounds and car park at any time.”

The chairman of EVRT has been invited to comment further.

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