Attack on beehives at Wisbech Castle prompts urgent call for action to stop intruders
Security is to be stepped up at Wisbech Castle following the latest incident of vandalism which saw bee hives attacked by two young men.
Tuesday night's incident has prompted Councillor Steve Tierney, chairman of the town council's castle committee, to propose introducing motion sensors around the wall, security lights and an intruder alarm to stop future incidents.
Coun Tierney has also blasted the heritage officer at Fenland District Council who has point-blankly refused to allow anti-climb measures from being installed on Castle's perimeter walls.
He said: "We have had numerous incidents of people climbing over the walls and vandalising and stealing in the grounds. We have tried to address this, but our hands are tied as we have been refused permission to instal the anti-climb spikes on the walls as they are classed as part of the Castle's chattels and the building is Grade II listed.
"In my opinion this is ridiculous and completely out of touch with the real world. People climbing the walls, kicking them as they go and grabbing the top is making it crumble and causing far more damage than the anti-spikes would.
"It is frustrating as volunteers spend so many hours trying to create something good for the community."
The attacks have included the smashing up of the Castle's fairy grotto a year ago, with the damage being wreaked just hours after volunteers had completed the work.
Just before Christmas someone broke in and caused damage to the Santa's grotto and broke into a storage area and stole over a third of the children's gift bags that had been prepared.
This latest attack however, has been described as the "most heartbreaking of all" and Coun Tierney believes was carried out by two members of the notorious 'bike gang' who have been terrorising the area for the past year.
Coun Tierney said:" Wisbech Castle team installed a number of bee hives last year as part of our ongoing conservation project. We have been looking after and nurturing the bees for the last year, with big plans for the project this year.
"During the night youths entered the Castle over the wall. They found the bee hives, kicked them over, smashed them, and attacked them and the bees with sticks. There was no reason to do this, there was nothing to be gained, it was simply to destroy bee hives and bees for some sort of sick pleasure of destruction.
"We have the entire incident on CCTV but unfortunately they know we have cameras and they are wearing dark hoodies to cover their faces. I think I recognise them as being part of the 'bike gang' but we can't really identify them from the footage, which shows them attacking the hives, running away laughing and then going back and hitting the bees again.
"Volunteers have set about repairing the damage, but there is little doubt that we have lost a number of bees and the conservation project has been set back. And for what?
"I'm no expert on bee keeping but I have been told we could lose one or all the hives if the bees decide they are no longer viable and they might die.
"This latest incident only reopens my frustration with our ridiculous and counter-productive heritage rules. Some wall spikes, anti climb paint and other counter-intrusion measures would make this much easier.
"If we are worried about damage to the ancient wall, you should see the damage that is being done to it by full-grown adults and large youths climbing over it all the time. Volunteers are very angry. We won't be resting on this and will be having an urgent meeting to discuss countermeasures."
More by this authorSarah Cliss