A COUNCILLOR said that not locking Vivary Park at night would leave other areas of Taunton “vulnerable”.

Cllr John Hunt (Independent, Bishop's Hull & Taunton West division) said that additional police patrols would be needed to “deal with the many issues that will arise in the park at night”.

This, Mr Hunt added, “will outweigh the so-called savings” that would come from not locking the park’s gates as anti-social behaviour and vandalism would increase.

Not locking the gates of the park is one of the proposed cutbacks considered by Somerset Council after declaring a financial emergency.

Cllr Hunt said: “Somerset Council have included on its list of proposed money-saving measures to cease the existing provision of the locking and reopening of the gates of Vivary Park.

“The service that is carried at the moment by an external contractor. The total cost is between £5,000 and £8,500.

“From a purely financial standpoint, the cost for our council taxpayers from anti-social behaviour and vandalism will well outweigh the so-called savings, in my opinion.

“On top of this, the additional police to patrol and deal with the many issues that will arise in the park at night.

“This will not only cost more in hard cash but also make the other areas of our county town vulnerable, of course.

“Police resources will be stretched to breaking point and other emergency services will be deployed, again, at a huge cost to council taxpayers.

“Yes, I realise that Taunton Town Council are not responsible officially for Vivary Park, however, leaving the par open at night will cause issues elsewhere in town.

“I have a quote for you. ‘There has been a recent spate of vandalism affecting our parks and open spaces.

“‘We remain committed to keeping Taunton looking clean and tidy and every time one of our assets is vandalised there is a cost attached for putting it right.

“‘For every penny we spend on that, our money is being diverted from our efforts to improve the town.’

“This was a very well-written post added to your Taunton Town Council Facebook page on January 22.

“So, on behalf of all those we all represent here in Taunton can I please ask that Taunton Town Council undertake to solve this issue in some way?

“I have a couple of suggestions. The use of other Somerset councillors and liaise with them and use your influence over them to remove the so-called savings from the list.

“You could also offer a deal, perhaps, to Somerset Council where Somerset Council splits the cost with yourself [Taunton Town Council].

“I think the most sustainable would be, in my view, that Taunton Town Council take over the existing contract on a monthly basis, on a temporary basis until such time as a more permanent decision can be made or a reliable alternative can be found.

“Perhaps the reformation of Friends of Vivary Park which sadly stopped operating not that recently, actually, or a similar voluntary group.”

Leader of the town council, Cllr Tom Deakin, said: “I agree with your sentiments regarding the impact of stopping the locking of Vivary Park.

“I agree with you, I think we could potentially see an increase in anti-social behaviour.

“There are provisions in the budget to take services like that, so we are still working on the details on that on other services with Somerset Council.

“The basis behind the budget is to enable us to protect those important services people care about.

“One thing as well that we are looking at for next year, I think is relevant to this, is increasing the number of town wardens that we have and our town wardens are individuals who are responsible for maintaining the town tidy.

“I think the Friends of Vivary Park is a brilliant idea.”