Clean-up in bid to end vandalism

By Anne-Marie Emerson

A clean-up of the old Waverley High School site will begin this week after a meeting between police and Ministry of Education contractors.

The Wanganui Chronicle reported recently that police were concerned by the amount of vandalism at the former South Taranaki school and feared someone would be injured at the dangerous site.

The school closed in 2007 and has been unoccupied since. Recently, a security fence around the site was taken away and police say the vandalism has been steadily increasing since then.

Waverley Constable Allan Spooner and Senior Constable Brian Rook met on Tuesday with staff from Darroch, a company which acts as an agent for the Ministry of Education at schools which have been closed down.

Mr Spooner said both parties agreed to a way forward for the site, which is on the corner of Fookes St and Gloag St.

"We're hoping to get a caretaker to look after the site. We're also hoping the hedges and trees will be trimmed regularly so the place is more open.

"The police and community patrols are planning to do more regular patrols of the area as well."

Mr Spooner said from the police point of view the matter was urgent, but there was a process for the Ministry of Education to go through before the steps could be approved.

"Unfortunately it's going to be expensive but we'd like it to be done urgently," he said.

Darroch declined to comment and referred the Wanganui Chronicle to the Ministry of Education.

A spokeswoman for the ministry confirmed that trimming of the large trees and hedges - which make policing the site at night difficult - would begin next week.

She said other options, such as upgrading the alarm system, were under "active consideration".

The spokeswoman said this month the ministry would meet with local iwi Nga Rauru, who have an interest in the site, to discuss the security arrangements.

"Following our meeting with Nga Rauru and the trimming of trees and hedges, new security arrangements will be confirmed and local police and community groups advised," she said.

The spokeswoman said the ministry recognised something needed to be done about the site.

"We acknowledge that the incidence of vandalism constitutes a serious problem and that this has been the case for some time."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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