A WARNING has been made that if the gates to Wellington Park are not locked at night it could open the floodgates for young people to hold rave parties.

Wellington Town Council has been looking at taking on the responsibility of locking the park at night to try and keep the area secure.

The move has come as part of the devolution of services process which is seeing tasks being passed down to the town council from cash-strapped Somerset Council.

But the town council’s devolution working group has been advised that costs to lock the park gates each night had increased from the original quote it had been given as the security company had withdrawn and the service was now being undertaken by Somerset Council staff at higher rates.

The working group meeting on June 26 – consisting of town clerk Dave Farrow, open spaces manager Darren Hill and Cllrs Justin Cole, Catherine Govier and Janet Lloyd – agreed that they look again at funding the locking of the gates as it was of no benefit to the town council as the park was still covered by Somerset Council’s insurance.

Cllr Justin Cole, speaking at the town council’s policy and finance committee meeting on July 8, said: “We don’t own the park, so we’re thinking about locking the gates at night on a moral ground, rather than a legal one. We don’t own the park – so should we be locking the gates?”

But Cllr John Thorne said: “The park has to be secured – we have to do it.”

Former Mayor, Cllr Mark Lithgow, said: “Legally we don’t have to lock the park, but morally and ethically we should do. If we leave it open at night we’re inviting it to be used for a mini rave party!”

Some councillors suggested that people could still get into Wellington Park even if the gates were locked.

“It’s not a security issue because it’s not going to stop people getting in if they want to,” said Cllr Sean Pringle-Kosikowsky. “If people want to get in there for a rave, they will do so, and the police can get in there as well.”

Cllr Lithgow responded: “But it would be difficult for police to get people out of there at night if the park was unlocked.”

Cllr Andrew Govier said: “I’m not keen on paying for something we don’t have to do such as lock the park at night, but I understand what others are saying about locking the gates.”

Town clerk Dave Farrow said that people getting into the park after the gates had been locked and causing problems was not a regular problem.

It was proposed by Cllr Andrew Govier and seconded by Cllr Steve Mercer to defer the matter and for the council’s devolution working group to look at the situation in more detail.

The council had originally budgeted for £5,000 on locking the gates for 2024-25, but it would appear more money is needed if it is to take on the role.