April 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Islington Council is investigating after a controversial treehouse was mysteriously vandalised by suspected saboteurs who may want it destroyed.
Children’s safety was potentially put at risk after bolts were removed from the structure in Arundel Square, Holloway, on Friday.
It appears to have been a deliberate act which park keepers say required specialist tools and considerable strength.
The treehouse, installed in March, has divided residents and rumours are rife that it was an act of sabotage by people intent on wrecking a structure they want removed.
Mother-of-five Susie Graves, 35, who lives in Arundel Square, said: “There is the feeling it was an act of sabotage – it’s just too odd otherwise. I have called the police and so have the council because it is criminal damage.
“There is no value to the bolts, it seems it was purely to make the treehouse unusable, by someone who is not happy about it being there.”
The bolts were holding up a climbing net used to get up to the structure, rendering it virtually unusable and making any ascent more risky.
Koukla MacLehose, 66, of Westbourne Road, said: “It’s a mystery, but I think it’s definitely an act of sabotage.
“But I don’t know what it’s aimed at – whether it’s against children or against the treehouse, I don’t know.”
Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “This damage is extremely serious as it could have put children’s safety at risk. It also needed specialist tools and a lot of effort.
“We are investigating, and have gathered video and photo evidence, and will be reporting this to the police.
“The treehouse has been repaired and our parks officers are keeping a close eye on the situation.”
While popular with many parents and children, the treehouse is facing an uncertain future after the council built it without realising it needed planning permission.
The council is now having to apply to its own planning department for retrospective permission and a ruling is due in November.
Supporters have started an online petition that has attracted nearly 350 signatures.
However, it does have critics, with some residents complaining the 22ft structure has robbed them of privacy and generates noise nuisance, as well as being a potential magnet for anti-social behaviour.
Louis Leigh, 34, of Blackthorn Avenue, said: “My main objection is how the planning was handled, because it just sprung up out of nowhere without any consultation.
“But I think the people who are against the treehouse probably have better things to do than sabotage it.”