Vandals rip lifebelts to bits in ‘moronic’ attack at Witney Lake

Jim Casson

Jim Casson

First published in News
Last updated
The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

VANDALS who damaged life-saving equipment next to a lake where a man drowned last year have been called “moronic” for putting lives at risk.

Two buoyancy aids at Witney Lake, are believed to have been ripped apart by partying youngsters on Saturday night.

It comes after James Bartlett, 37, was found dead in the lake by police divers last August after going for a swim.

Witney Town Council facilities manager Claire Swan said: “It could come at a huge cost to human lives if a child falls into a lake and there’s no buoyancy aid.

“We think they are completely unusable.

“That lake worries me to death because it has such a strong undercurrent and it’s not safe for swimming. This type of behaviour is stupid and moronic.”

The council believes the buoyancy aids, costing £187 each, were damaged by youngsters on Saturday night.

Town ranger Jim Casson spotted the aids attached to a wooden raft in the lake, which is between Ducklington and the A40, and reported it to the council.

Since starting the job at the end of April, he has helped to draw attention to antisocial behaviour in the town.

In May the council received reports of 10 incidents from Mr Casson and residents, while in the first weekend of June there were seven incidents.

Reports included bollards and bird feeders in Tower Hill Cemetery being stolen, broken glass next to the lake, benches in Raleigh Park play area damaged and a football pitch in The Leys damaged by barbecues.

The council estimates the two months of damage cost up to £3,000 to repair, nearly half what the council spent £6,700 on repairs caused by vandalism in six months between May and November last year.

Mr Casson said at least half a dozen trees in The Leys recreation ground, King George V playing field and Burwell Estate could be killed after bark was extensively stripped from them.

He said: “It’s a very needless kind of action and makes you wonder why people do such things.

“We thought it might be down to animals when I first saw it but it’s happened in a few different places.”

The latest bout of antisocial behaviour comes after thieves stole flowers planted by the Witney Trefoil Guild at Tower Hill Cemetery to commemorate the centenery of the First World War.

Town councillor Chrissie Curry said she was “absolutely appalled” at the level of vandalism.

She said: “What kind of mindset would make someone go and desecrate a cemetery? It’s reaching a new low.

“The money could be spent on new things for the town like play areas but instead it is being used for repairs and replacements because of mindless vandalism.”

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Comments (4)

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9:18am Wed 18 Jun 14

jennie65 says...

bring back goof ole fashioned discipline. Schools have lost the power to discipline, so have parents, so have the police, your local shopkeeper would cuff you round the head for being disrespectful. Nowadays there are no consequences to the actions of unruly children. With no punishment there are no rules, no rules, you get this kind of anti social behaviour. Reap what you sow people.
bring back goof ole fashioned discipline. Schools have lost the power to discipline, so have parents, so have the police, your local shopkeeper would cuff you round the head for being disrespectful. Nowadays there are no consequences to the actions of unruly children. With no punishment there are no rules, no rules, you get this kind of anti social behaviour. Reap what you sow people. jennie65
  • Score: 4

10:44am Wed 18 Jun 14

C ARINGAROSA says...

Hello everyone, I have returned,rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Well done Mr Casson, he is the best councillor that Witney has and also our very own Lone Ranger, Hi Ho Silver.? Keep up the good work.
Hello everyone, I have returned,rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Well done Mr Casson, he is the best councillor that Witney has and also our very own Lone Ranger, Hi Ho Silver.? Keep up the good work. C ARINGAROSA
  • Score: 0

1:30pm Wed 18 Jun 14

King Joke says...

I remember reading clap-trap like that in the 1970s Jennie. If the olden days were so good, why were people complaining?
I remember reading clap-trap like that in the 1970s Jennie. If the olden days were so good, why were people complaining? King Joke
  • Score: -1

8:40am Thu 19 Jun 14

Englishman says...

Vandallism and drug taking amongst todays youths is rife in Witney it seems. There are many around now in their late teens who could not be bothered to go to school and caused vandalism when they were younger. Police, Magistrates, Social workers and Parents did nothing then. Now these yobs are growing up with no job in prospect and lets face it most will not work so long as they can get drugs and booze off the State handouts and even better if they get a girl pregnant, they can also get a new house. Every day I see the same perfectly healthy people go past my house as they have done for years. If only I saw the occasional Policeman, I had better say Policewoman as well or I will be called sexist, in Witney it would be good. Then if they read this newspaper they would know that there is often trouble aound that lake at weekends they may even get out of their cars to investigate from time to time.
Vandallism and drug taking amongst todays youths is rife in Witney it seems. There are many around now in their late teens who could not be bothered to go to school and caused vandalism when they were younger. Police, Magistrates, Social workers and Parents did nothing then. Now these yobs are growing up with no job in prospect and lets face it most will not work so long as they can get drugs and booze off the State handouts and even better if they get a girl pregnant, they can also get a new house. Every day I see the same perfectly healthy people go past my house as they have done for years. If only I saw the occasional Policeman, I had better say Policewoman as well or I will be called sexist, in Witney it would be good. Then if they read this newspaper they would know that there is often trouble aound that lake at weekends they may even get out of their cars to investigate from time to time. Englishman
  • Score: 2

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