Resilient community responds after ‘totally unacceptable’ anti-social behaviour at National Trust land in Bosham

A vicar has voiced his disgust at young people who used his Bosham churchyard as a lavatory at the weekend.

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 1:05 pm
The group, who have allegedly been seen with alcohol and drugs, were also accused of urinating in the churchyard. Photo: Kate Shemilt ks170022-7 SUS-180122-210842008

It comes as the proud community has been left shocked by a group of about 100 young people, believed to be visiting from outside the village, who have been seen drinking, taking drugs and urinating in a churchyard — leaving residents to get up at 4.30am to clean up after them.

Police officers are conducting patrols after residents claimed that, for two weeks, young people have been gathering on the open green field facing the harbour.

The group were also accused of breaking glass bottles on the edge of the sea wall, leaving large amounts of litter and playing loud music.

The Reverend Canon Martin Lane, Vicar of Bosham, condemned the culprits’ actions. Photo: Kate Shemilt ks170022-2 SUS-180122-210853008

The National Trust, which owns the land, said its local team is aware and working closely with Sussex Police and Bosham Parish Council.

The Reverend Canon Martin Lane, Vicar of Bosham, said: “The anti-social behaviour on Quay Meadow and the use of the closed churchyard as a lavatory has highlighted the lack of dignity people have both for themselves and the departed who are buried in this sacred place.

“Such carelessness in these days of COVID-19 are concerning, when so many have sacrificed so much in the fight against this pandemic.”

Richard Pratt, who co-chairs the Bosham Association and sits on the Save Our South Coast Alliance committee, said people using the margins of the site as a toilet is ‘really, totally unacceptable’.

However, he praised the work of the close-knit community, who have rallied round to clear-up bottles, glass and food wrappers.

He added: “Some residents from all parts of the parish have begun the clear-up as early as 4.30am, removing all this litter so that often by 9am, it looks all perfect again. 

“Bosham is a very beautiful place and we are determined to keep it that way.

“Fortunately we have a very close-knit community and are able bounce back but we would hope that visitors, whoever they may be, would in the famous phrase ‘come, enjoy, take only photos and leave only footprints’.”

Andrew Kerry-Bedell, of Save Our Harbour Villages, encouraged residents of all ages to ‘keep calm in this [coronavirus] crisis’.

He said: “In the last two months we’ve all had our frustrations, but keeping our cool when it’s hot, and we’ve all been under lockdown, is a measure of how well a civilised society behaves.

“The recent anti-social behaviour of groups of younger people at Quay Meadow shows we still have a lot to do.

“We need to work harder to convince all members of society that it’s in everyone’s interests to keep calm in this crisis, and to bide our time until we are once again able to meet once more as a vibrant complete harbour village community of all ages, genders and groups.”

The National Trust asked anyone who witnesses illegal activity at Quay Meadow to report it to the police. 

A spokesperson said: “These are unprecedented times and our outdoor teams are working incredibly hard to keep our places open, safe and clean.

“We need everyone’s help to keep them that way, especially at a time when our resources are stretched across several sites.”

Sussex Police said officers will be out patrolling and engaging with the ‘small minority of people’ about the current government guidance around the coronavirus.

A spokesperson said: “Officers will engage, explain and encourage and only if absolutely necessary, enforce.

“The policing role has never been to enforce social distancing – that is a matter for personal responsibility, and we have been encouraged by the vast majority of people adhering to this.

“We will continue to have an increased policing presence and encourage anyone who witnesses or has been a victim of anti-social behaviour to report it to us either online or by calling 101.”

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