Yet again, some anti-social scumbags have attacked the Thameside Nature Discovery Park: Vandals cause £3,000 of damage at borough wildlife park – 02.01.22. This is not the first time the park has been targeted: The renegades within – May 3, 2021. With the Discovery Park being managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, the £3,000 needed to repair the damage effectively comes out of the pockets of members of the trust. That’s money that could have been spent more constructively on conservation work. With membership of the Essex Wildlife Trust running into the tens of thousands, it outstrips the membership of any political party in the county. That makes the trust a broad based, popular organisation. So, any attack on any of the reserves is an attack on the people of Essex. It’s also an attack on the people of Thurrock who value what the park has to offer.

We live in troubled times. Over the last two years, people have sought some kind of escape from these troubles by visiting their local park and re-connecting with nature. A few hours in a country park has proven benefits for physical and mental health. These were some thoughts we we posted on our sister blog, Alternative Estuary, about the value of parks to the communities around them: Reflections on the value of a park – May 20, 2020. The one thing people want is to feel safe when they visit their local park. At a nearby park in Stanford-le-Hope, there have been issues with safety: Contested spaces… – November 9, 2020. What happened at the Thameside Nature Discovery Park will understandably make people feel more nervous about visiting the park. We go to these places to try to relax – that won’t happen if people feel they have to be constantly looking over their shoulders.

We’ve written far more than we ever want to about the impact nihilistic attacks like this have on community morale. This is just one example of the many posts we’ve had to write: An attack on the football club is an attack on the community – March 14, 2019. Whoever carried out this latest attack on the Thameside Nature Discovery Park can’t live that far away. They’re in our community although by their actions, it’s clear they’ve no understanding of what community actually means, let alone any sense of responsibility towards it. Somehow, these people have to be made to understand the consequences of their actions and to fully accept responsibility for making amends for them.