One man’s war on park trash

Reinard Van Lieshout spends his spare time picking up litter because he fears one day his granddaughter will find syringes and bongs that litter Wattle Grove streets.

Four days a week, he walks through Wattle Grove lake to Wattle Grove Park’s playground with his hat, stick and a bucket.

The retiree told the Champion these dangerous items don’t just pose a personal safety risk to his family, they affect all families in the area.

“I need to exercise and I thought while I'm walking around I may as well do something useful,” he said. “I wanted it to be clean for my family. It poses a danger for kids. The amount of rubbish I find after the weekend is mind-boggling.

“It's a general problem in society and a lot of people do the right thing but some people don't seem to care. It shows us there’s an underbelly at Wattle Grove.”

Last Monday he found five bucket-loads of litter, which included a syringe found by the postbox on Delfin Drive, another syringe in the lake and a bong just up from the local pub.

Wattle Grove Park playground – not the one by the lake – was recently repaired by the council after being burnt but it was burnt again by the weekend. Last week on Thursday there were still a pile of matches, rotting vomit and smashed glass left on the playground.

The 66-year-old posted about the problem on Facebook and got responses from concerned parents.

Some locals believe vandalism and drug-related items were dumped by troubled youth. 

“That's the park right across from mine. My hubby went and yelled at a few teens who were lighting a fire. Scared them off. Sad I can't take my kids to that park. I’ve also let the council know. Maybe putting up some cameras or something may stop it,” one woman wrote on Facebook.

Mr Van Lieshout urges parents to be aware of their children’s whereabouts after school hours and to know who their friends are.

“Do parents really know what their offspring are up to? If all these kids were taught properly by their parents we wouldn’t have such a problem,” he said.

Liverpool police patrol the area and said offenders will be penalised.

Liverpool Council chief executive Kiersten Fishburn said they regularly carry out maintenance of the area, despite not being aware of problems relating to syringes.

The council and police are working in response to community concerns. Liverpool police patrol the area and said offenders will be penalised. “We do taskings in that area and if people are caught they’ll be prosecuted. If any residents have concerns contact Crime Stoppers,” said Liverpool acting crime manager Scott Holden.

“We continue to do taskings in that area and if people are caught they will be prosecuted accordingly,” said Liverpool acting crime manager Scott Holden.

Liverpool Council’s Kiersten Fishburn said they regularly do maintenance of the area, despite not being aware of syringe problems. “Council crews patrol and collect litter at the park twice a week. We haven’t got reports of syringes being found at the park for two years.”

Call 1300 36 2170 if you find dangerous items like this in parks.