Club un­der attack

Central Leader - - NEWS - By CIARA PRATT

‘‘Brazen youths’’ are ter­ror­is­ing the Avon­dale Jockey Club with re­peated acts of van­dal­ism and mem­bers have had enough.

Vis­i­tors have reg­u­larly ar­rived on the prop­erty to dis­cover smashed com­puter mon­i­tors, shat­tered win­dows, tag­ging and glass-etch­ing.

Al­co­hol and food have also been stolen and mem­bers fear the at­tacks could es­ca­late af­ter one of their own was robbed of his mo­bile phone on the premises last week.

Club pres­i­dent Al­lan Boyle says the club – which re­opened in 2013 – has been try­ing to re­fresh its set-up and re-es­tab­lish it­self as a suc­cess­ful race track.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion suspended rac­ing in 2010 af­ter 120 years be­cause of dwin­dling crowd num­bers and mount­ing debt worth more than $2 mil­lion.

‘‘This van­dal­ism is di­rected at us specif­i­cally and is hurt­ing,’’ Boyle says. ‘‘Through Jan­uary at times it has looked like a war zone.’’

‘‘It’s quite de­mor­al­is­ing. We are a com­mu­nity as­set,’’ sec­re­tary­man­ager John Craig says. ‘‘It’s not just the dam­age, it’s the man hours in­volved in clean­ing it up. But we no sooner clean it up and it’s back again.’’

Club mem­bers have seen youths ‘‘loi­ter­ing’’ around the premises and Boyle says the be­lief is that many are un­der the age of 14.

‘‘As a com­mu­nity-based out­fit here in Avon­dale we are ask­ing the lo­cals – in­clud­ing politi­cians and busi­nesses – for help.

‘‘We have con­tract se­cu­rity pa­trols, we use the 111 emer­gency sys­tem and the com­mu­nity polic­ing.

‘‘So far nei­ther our se­cu­rity firm nor the po­lice have been able to close down the at­tacks.’’

Pho­tos: CIARA PRATT

Sense­less act: Avon­dale Jockey Club sec­re­tary-manager John Craig stands in front of boarded up win­dows, a re­sult of re­peated van­dal­ism.

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