EAST Renfrewshire Council has been urged to install CCTV at Barrhead’s Cowan Park after vandals set fire to the new play area.

Police are currently hunting those responsible for a blaze that caused significant damage to the park last week.

Witnesses reported seeing youths setting fire to a picnic bench in the play area but, by the time fire crews and the police arrived, the guilty parties had scattered.

Earlier this year, the park received an investment totalling £250,000 to improve the facilities available for the community.

However, a spate of vandalism incidents have seen several picnic benches torched and destroyed, leading to concerns that the popular green space is becoming a no-go zone for families.

Following this latest incident, the council said further public funds will have to be used in repairing the damage.

Councillor Alan Lafferty, East Renfrewshire’s environment convener, hit out at the vandals.

He said: “I was appalled to see the damage caused to the fantastic play area we had only recently opened in Cowan Park.

“A significant amount of money was invested in the works and to have to carry out costly repairs so soon is extremely disappointing.

“Vandalism to public spaces is completely unacceptable. It impacts directly on our annual budget and, in this instance, prevents residents from enjoying the facility.

“We will do all we can to support Police Scotland with their enquiries.”
News of the latest incident, which took place last Tuesday night, caused a stir on social media, with many residents accusing the council of being at fault for failing to install CCTV.

Brian Smith said: “The council are just as much to blame here. Parks should have CCTV installed, not only to protect the property but for public safety.”

Kathryn Foye asked: “Why invest such a huge amount of public money and not protect it with CCTV?”

Rosaleen Reilly, chair of Barrhead Community Council, said many local people are scared of going through Cowan Park after dark.

She told the Barrhead News: “There definitely needs to be some kind of patrol in Cowan Park because people are afraid to go there.

“Unless you’re going in a group, it doesn’t feel safe.

“Vandalism and anti-social behaviour ought to be stamped out. It can’t be allowed to go on with nothing done about it.

“And CCTV is absolutely crucial for Cowan Park. It would help solve a lot of problems and people definitely would feel a lot safer.”

Currently, there are no CCTV cameras in Cowan Park and the council has given no indication as to whether they may be installed in the future.

A council spokesperson said: “We currently have 267 CCTV cameras situated across the authority and our community safety team patrol key sites regularly. However, unfortunately, CCTV alone cannot solve this problem.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners in Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to try and prevent future incidents like this.”