CARELESS youths playing ball games in Sussex Square last week smashed two windows in the Walcot Charity Shop and Library.

According to residents, unruly teenagers have been gathering in the square and playing ball games for some time, and last Friday two windows were broken in the local shop.

The incident has left the chairman of the Charity Shop and Library, Peter Mallinson, concerned about the security of the building, as well as the impression the square makes on visitors.

He said: “Some visitors coming to Sussex Square have said it looks like Beirut with all the weeds growing everywhere and the shutters, and now with boarded up windows where they were broken.

“It’s not good for the community looking like that. It looks like people don’t care about the community and that means the youths don’t think it’s worth caring about, and that’s why this happens.

“It’s the same for the volunteers, they work very hard but they deserve to be able to work in an environment where they enjoy working. If they are worried that another window might be smashed then they might not want to volunteer any more.

“I’m also worried about security. I mean it is just boarded up and people could still get in.”

Peter also raised concerns that if the youths continued to congregate, it could put people off using the shop. “It can be quite intimidating. They all gather here just outside Our Place, the youth cafe, and play ball games.

“I don’t want to stop them or anything from playing the games. It just needs someone to monitor them and say ‘watch where you kick that’.

“I think the shop is in a deprived part of town and a lot of people depend on it, particularly the library with the computers which they use to do their CVs and things.

“If people are worried about the youths and put off from coming here, then our takings will drop and if our takings drop then we can’t pay the rent.”

The incident was reported to the police, who are investigating.

A police spokesman said: “Wiltshire Police were called to the Walcot Community Shop, Sussex Square, following reports of criminal damage which took place on June 6 at approximately 6pm.

“It is alleged that a number of youths were seen kicking a football against the shutters of the building which caused the glass to crack. The local Neighbourhood Policing Team is investigating this and patrols have been increased in the area as a result.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where details can be left anonymously.”

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We have been out today to board up the windows at the library and we are arranging with our contractor to carry out any necessary repairs.”