ORANGE City Council staff have stopped locking the gates to Cook Park at night, claiming the locks do nothing to deter people from entering the area, despite vandals covering trees and equipment in toilet paper on Sunday.
This week Central Western Daily staff were contacted by several Clinton Street residents who claimed the park had become a meeting place for groups of people at night.
Council spokesman Allan Reeder said the gates, excluding the toilets, had not been locked for several months and, apart from last week’s toilet paper vandalism, there had been no problems.
“With such low fences and hedges around the park perimeter, locking the gates doesn’t add much to the security of the park,” he said.
“Almost all parks in Orange are not locked at night.
“Where other park gates are locked in Orange such as Lake Canobolas, it’s about keeping cars out.”
Mr Reeder said the vast majority of people who used Cook Park were very thoughtful and considerate of other park users and the neighbourhood.
“It’s hard to imagine how locking the gates would have stopped last weekend’s incident where toilet paper was thrown into trees,” he said.
Mr Reeder said council staff would review the decision not to lock the gates in due course.
Canobolas Local Area Command Inspector Peter Atkins said there had been no reported cases of vandalism in the park in recent weeks.
He said the park was not out of bounds to residents at night and police would not remove people from the park unless they were engaging in antisocial behaviour.
“In fact incidents of malicious damage in Orange are down this month,” he said.