Candidate’s tour interrupted by child asking for help to repair playground
Opened a month before the last General Election as a place for people of all ages to gather and play, Olivebank Community Field was supposed to help bring families of Warwick South Central together.
Young people have certainly taken advantage of the spot, but Devrae Noel-Simmons has found it's hardly been the glue former local MP Ewart Brown was hoping would unite the community.
Canvassing Constituency 26 with
The Royal Gazette, United Bermuda Party candidate Mr Noel-Simmons was told the lack of lighting at the park in Jones Village has made it an ideal location for teenagers to congregate and get up to anti-social behaviour at night.
One resident said they tear around on 250cc motorcycles, smoke drugs and talk loudly in the small hours, leading to angry confrontations with neighbours trying to get some sleep.
That man, who asked not to be named, said he'd asked for lighting but Government told him it would be an inconvenience to other residents.
“I don't know about that,” he said, insisting the annoyance of late-night light would be preferable to the noise he currently has to abide.
Mr Noel-Simmons is also concerned about the condition of playground equipment pointing to broken and rusty swings, sharp wood chippings and a graffiti-plagued climbing frame.
One youngster came over to ask the candidate if he could make it safe.
“My friend fell off the climbing frame and hurt his head. He cut himself on a piece of wood. He had to be rushed to hospital,” said the boy.
He said another child had slipped off the equipment on a rainy day because there weren't adequate safety railings.
“Lots of kids use this playground but it isn't really very safe. Is there anything you can do to make it safer?” he said.
Mr Noel-Simmons told this newspaper he'd heard of vagrants sleeping in the climbing frame, while the park also has drainage issues.
“This park is all well and good, but it requires upkeep and safety measures. There's no point opening a park if you are not going to upkeep it,” he said.
“This is what I'm saying about being a candidate. I'm not trying to save the world. I want to do this a bit at a time, starting with this park which needs particular upkeep.”
Residents have told Mr Noel-Simmons they were frustrated they weren't consulted over what the park would be like before it was officially opened.
“I would have a suggestion box so the neighbourhood can decide what they want instead of Government just putting it in,” he said.
Mr Noel-Simmons also points to the condition of Tribe Road Number Five, which is now so overgrown residents have to walk along the busy Warwick Lane instead to get to their South Road bus stop.
He says the Tribe Road, made worse by Hurricane Igor, had been a popular shortcut for youngsters on their way to catch the school bus.
“Imagine a young boy. Look at all this he's got to deal with as he walks along this road,” said Mr Noel-Simmons as he picked out an abandoned motorcycle and numerous large branches strewn across the path.
He believes the road is also a “criminal's dream” because people could easily hide in the overgrown trees.
“I remember growing up as a boy I had to walk through the Tribe Road to go home,” he said.
“The alternative route is too dangerous because it's so busy. But this is now dangerous as well because it's not been looked after properly.”