Minister greeted by vandalism aftermath

AS Cabinet officer minister Ed Miliband arrived in Ipswich, he got a graphic illustration of how “low-level” anti-social behaviour can blight the lives of families in the town.

AS Cabinet officer minister Ed Miliband arrived in Ipswich, he got a graphic illustration of how “low-level” anti-social behaviour can blight the lives of families in the town.

He was taken to Cobham Road recreation ground on the Racecourse estate with the aim of seeing how investment in new play equipment had transformed a run-down area which was known as a graveyard for burnt-out cars.

However when he arrived, much of the children's playground was unusable - two glass alcopops bottles had been smashed on the ground and shards of glass littered the safety surfaces underneath the slides, swings, roundabout and climbing frame.

Mr Miliband was in town to talk about how Labour's policies had made life better for communities in the run-up to May's elections - and he was especially keen to blow the trumpet for neighbourhood policing and community support officers.


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But as he surveyed the state of the playground, he accepted there were limits to what could be achieved.

He said: “You can't have police on duty at every playground 24 hours a day, it is not possible. What is important is that when this kind of vandalism happens, the authorities act quickly to clear up the mess.

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“Community support officers are a vital part of the police service, they act as the eyes and ears in the community - they are not tied up with making arrests.”

And Mr Miliband rejected claims that boosting the number of CSOs was providing policing on the cheap.

He said: “We have now more police officers than in 1997, but the support officers are a very welcome addition to the police service in areas like this.”

Mum Jojo Shorter had brought her two young children to the playground and was dismayed to find the glass on the ground.

Mrs Shorter had to keep a keen eye on three and a half year old Anastasia as she played on the swing: “This does happen sometimes. It is such a shame - but you have to keep a close eye on the children.

“It's teenagers who come here drinking, this has happened overnight.”

Priory Heath councillor and Labour agent John Cook said he had contacted the borough's Cleaner Ipswich Hotline earlier in the day and was hoping the mess would soon be cleared up.

He said: “Things are better here than they were - but we have to ensure that when this kind of thing happens it is cleared up as soon as possible.”

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