A popular park in Canterbury – which sees hundreds of visitors each day – has many pairs of ears and eyes which closely monitor the place.
Not only does a park keeper make sure Dane John Gardens are clean, safe and pleasant, but so do street scene inspectors from Canterbury City Council, a community safety officer from the Canterbury Community Safety Unit, police officers and Police Community Support Officers – and Civil Enforcement Officers from the council as they travel between car parks.
And that’s not to mention the council’s CCTV operators back at the civic centre who also watch over the park.
The gardens are popular throughout the year. Hundreds of schoolchildren use them as a meeting place during the summer holidays and after school during the autumn. They are also popular with city centre residents, young families, tourists, dog owners, picnickers, walkers and shop staff on their lunch breaks.
Park keeper Terry McMahan, who works for the council contractor Serco, said: “It’s nice to have a green space in a city environment where people feel safe and where they can enjoy picnics or walks. Dane John Gardens is the busiest park in Canterbury.
“With so many tourists visiting Canterbury it is important for us to set a good impression, which is why we are constantly making sure the park looks its best.
“Our biggest problem is litter. Despite signs warning of penalties some people just don’t clear up after themselves.”
Mr McMahan picks up litter and empties bins at the park. If he notices other problems he contacts the council or the police.
Council street scene inspector Adrian Stuart said: “Many people don’t know that we can issue an £80 Fixed Penalty Notice for littering. People have 14 days to pay, or they will be taken to court. Also most visitors to the gardens do not realise that they are patrolled 365 days a year, during the daytime and at night.”
Other issues street scene inspectors might get involved in could include reminding dog walkers to clean up after their pets and making sure the no cycling rules are obeyed.
Police officers and Police Community Support Officers patrol the gardens day and night.
PCSO Tim Pitcher said: “Lots of planned events take place at Dane John Gardens and they are usually well organised and there are hardly ever any problems.
“The park is patrolled consistently and most of the time we find it is used by people having a good time and enjoying the community gardens.
“The area is a designated alcohol control zone so if someone is causing a nuisance we can take the alcohol away and dispose of it.”
Civil enforcement officers, checking the car parks, use Dane John Gardens, as a thoroughfare.
CEO Linda Elvin said: “We often walk through Dane John Gardens while out on our beats. We are extra eyes and ears who keep a look out and if we see anything untoward we report it to the council, the CCTV operators or the police. The park is generally very clean, but there are sometimes problems with litter, with the problem being worse in the summer.”
Youngsters playing ball games used to be a problem in the park – but not since new signs were introduced around a year ago. They remind people that ball games can be played, but ask that consideration is given to other park users.
Community safety officer Graham Simpson said: “People have taken notice of the signs and there are now few complaints about ball games.
“Dane John Gardens is enjoyed by many people throughout the year. The various agencies work closely together to make sure the gardens continues to be a safe, happy and pleasant place to visit.”
Councillor Rosemary Doyle’s responsibilities include open spaces. She said: “So many people enjoy the gardens, but few appreciate just how much work goes into keeping them looking so good and how many organisations are involved in the supervision of the place. They look lovely all the year round.”