Hove’s Secret Garden locked up after ‘wild parties’ and vandalism

Posted On 17 Sep 2018 at 2:24 pm

Picture by Christopher Hawtree

A tranquil garden which was used as a sanctuary has been closed after drunks and youths trashed it with wild parties and vandalism.

The Secret Garden behind St Leonard’s Church in New Church Road, Hove, was transformed four years ago from abandoned ground into allotments led by the hard work of resident Mike Sharman.

But this month, the gardens were locked following several months of increasing vandalism and late night noise.

The notice says: “We are sorry to announce that this garden is now closed to the public.

“Due to vandalism, wild noisy parties, rubbish, and no respect for our garden or neighbours by a minority group, this garden is now closed to the majority who have found it a peaceful sanctuary.

“Kitchen waste can be brought in on Saturdays 11-2 and Wednesdays 12-2.”

Ward councillor Robert Nemeth, who helped set up the garden, said: “The idea came from a local resident called Mike Sharman. We cleared a big patch of abandoned land from behind St Leonard’s and created a community allotment for the good of everyone living and working in the neighbourhood. Lots of people used it for fun and relaxation.

“About a year ago, problems started. Small groups of kids starting using the space, but not enough to crack down on everyone using it.

“But over the summer it got really bad and we had so many complaints and residents informing us that the garden was being misused that we had to start locking it, which is really sad.”

Before the garden was locked, chairs were removed to deter late night parties and fragile things put away as well as various other security measures – but this was not enough to stop the increasing problems.

It’s hoped the gardens can be opened once more. Cllr Nemeth added: “We hope that the winter breaks the habit and then hopefully the kids who were using it grow up and find a proper place to hang out.”

  1. Anna Thornton Reply

    What a shame. I visited quite a few times and even brought my grand daughter Leyla to see the vehicles and pond. She loved it and we tiptoe around it as it was so serene and quite.

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Thanks for highlighting this, and my photograph. It is really upsetting that a great spot has been ruined by bummers. A couple of months ago I went to the graveyard with an expert upon the Compton-Burnett family, and he then marvelled at a Garden created almost a century after the deaths of the last two in that grave (two sisters in a suicide pact).Meanwhile I have described it as part of a long story in Hove (more on that anon).

  3. Leo Reply

    Sounds like an intriguing tale, Christopher; can’t wait to read it.

  4. Ivan Lyons Reply

    We have so little green public space in our area – we must all take some responsibility to look after these areas. Hopefully as the councillor says – the youth will grow up & the gardens will once again be accessible soon.

    Westbourne Conservative Team

  5. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    I see that the Argus has now copied this story.

  6. Blah Reply

    The ongoing antisocial behaviour and vandalism might have something to do with the Tories cutting police officer numbers by 21,000 (yes, 21,000) since 2010. Oh well. Clearly, you can’t have it all!

  7. Nigel Furness Reply

    Blah is spot on! the quality of life in our once beautiful city is on a daily basis being steadily eroded by a selfish minority who have come to realise that they can behave outrageously with impunity through this total lack of visible policing. A good example of this is Brunswick Square, near me, where vast swathes of dense shrubbery, planted after the 1987 Hurricane in order to provide both a shelter bed from the salt-laden winds and a wildlife refuge have been murdered by so-called gardeners employed by the Council because of “anti-social behaviour.” I strongly suspect that this is on the advice of the police who, in the early ’90s, were advising people in my road to cut down bushes near their front doors so as to make it easier for potential intruders to be spotted! Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Yes, Blah, the Tory cuts to local authorities are totally irresponsible, but Sussex Police must shoulder equal responsibility for how they employ what resources they do possess; over-reliance on tackling cyber crime and the use of cctv cameras with no one PROACTIVELY viewing the screens is NO substitute for bobbies on the beat and, in particular, dedicated COMMUNITY COPPERS–QUALITY OF LIFE COUNTS!

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