Council and police criticised after park café closes due to vandalism

A CAFÉ in St John’s Recreation Ground has closed ‘indefinitely’ after Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) and Kent Police failed to protect the premise from relentless vandals, its owner has claimed.

Even Flow café confirmed on October 19 that ‘due to constant vandalism, we are unable to function at St Johns Park’.

The café, which opened in May 2021, had always experienced issues but lately the anti-social behaviour had ‘just got worse’.

Matthew Lord, owner of the Even Flow café, explained how issues started with petty littering, parties and youths smoking cannabis to chucking his milk on the floor, smashing windows, destroying the bowling green and setting fire to the toilets which had to be closed for three months.

Mr Lord said: “Vandals have directly forced us to close. We are very sad to close. This is a nice community and 90 per cent of people in the park are lovely but there is a small minority that are spoiling it for everyone.

“We have approached the council on many occasions over the past months and have seen no improvement and received zero support.


“There is no funding, no police and no one cares and frankly the residents are sick to death of it.”


He added: “I am frustrated with the council and the police. There needs to be consequences from the police otherwise it will keep happening.”

Mr Lord, who also has a record shop on St John’s Road says that he has had to create more work and move all eight members and a couple casual staff over to the store.

The vandalism finally came to a head when a group of ‘young thugs’ pulled out the internet cables from the café laving them without use of their till and card machine.

A local councillor said ‘more should have been done’.

Cllr Peter Lidstone said: “It’s an issue that has been on and off for years, but I think we [the council] have been tackling it but more should have been done.”

“It’s more than bored kids playing football, its criminal damage and drug taking. It has gone beyond the powers of the council.”

He added that there had been other reports of anti-social behaviour in the area including bricks being thrown through car windows and wingmirrors being kicked off along Beltring road.

Kent Police said they were looking into the matter.

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