Expensive stainless steel benches at The Glebe centre in Chells have been wrecked by vandals. The benches were installed by Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) when The Glebe was refurbished about 4 years ago and are situated in the pedestrian area near the opticians and men’s hairdresser. They are for general public use.

Chells local Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Robin Parker, said “I noticed the damage to these seats a couple of weeks ago, when doing a routine check of the area. Local people tell me that the damage has been done by youths doing ‘wheelie’ manoeuvres and crashing down on the seats. Of the 4 seats, one has been completely wrecked and two have had their backs broken and are not now fully useable.”

“The engineers say that the seats cannot be repaired because bending the metal severely weakens them and they would not then be safe. The cost of replacing these seats would be about £2,000 per seat, and the local Liberal Democrat councillors cannot pay for the total cost of about £8,000 from our small local budgets. Therefore I have asked officials to look into the possibility of paying for stronger replacements from a central budget, but with council funds being very tightly restricted for the foreseeable future, I am not confident that this will be possible, so they may have just to remove them.”

“The basic problem is that SBC chose an unsuitable weak design of seats when the refurbishment was done. They took no notice of my suggestion then that very strong street furniture was needed.”

“I informed the police about the damage and it is to be hoped that these vandals can be found and stopped, because otherwise they will continue to cost council tax payers thousands of pounds for the vandals’ stupidity.”