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Ooh ah me ‘Artys!
Wednesday 26th May, 2010

Ooh ah me ‘Artys!

After some lily-livered landlubbers plundered the pirate ship at Our Lady’s Church School in Aspull, some inventive swashbucklers came up with a creative alternative to making the culprits walk the plank.

Pupils were asked to design a range of posters aimed at discouraging anti-social behaviour in the area - such as smashing windows, graffiti and littering. (Admittedly, not so much in the way of piracy, pillaging and looting!) And the posters judged to be the best will be made into signs and prominently displayed around Aspull.

Local ward member Chris Ready contacted the Neighbourhood Team last autumn after the school was targeted by some young people who were intent on causing damage to the newly installed pirate ship park. And although reports of localised vandalism, graffiti and criminal damage did tail off when the nights became darker and colder, there was concern that once spring arrived, the problem would resurface.

Dave Lyon, Wigan Council’s Neighbourhood Team Leader for the area, says. “Working with the headteacher and Neighbourhood Policing Team, we visited the school and spoke to pupils in assembly, asking them to let us know if they saw anybody damaging the ship or causing any kind of anti-social behaviour. We also sent out letters to local residents, asking them to keep their eyes and ears open."

Dave, together with Inspector Glenn Jones from Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team, plan to visit the school to judge the artistic efforts of the children, who range from Reception to Year 6. And booty will be awarded to a winner in each category, as well as treasure for two runner up prizes.

"We are carrying out regular patrols of the area and hope that this kind of preventative measure will help to nip any problems in the bud,” says Glenn Jones. “The posters will hopefully make some young people think twice, as well as help to improve the often negative perception of young people within their own community.”

"The school and the children put a lot of time and effort into creating the pirate ship park and it was very upsetting to see the damage that had been done to it," says Cllr. Ready. "After I visited the school, I contacted all the agencies, and they have done an excellent job in repairing the damage. I hope the young people will be able to continue to enjoy this excellent facility throughout the summer, and beyond."

Headteacher John Rushton adds: "All the children in school have really engaged in designing the posters around anti-social behaviour and environmental crime and the staff have been very impressed with their thoughtful approach to these issues. Our School Council and Eco Committee have been involved in organising various activities and we have really appreciated the support of the local Police and Neighbourhood Teams, which has given the project real impetus."

The Neighbourhood Team also plans to support the school on a litterpick, aimed at clearing footways and carriageways around the vicinity of the school.

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