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Lawyer, 45, takes village charity to court claiming yobs invade community play area behind her home

Solicitor Marie Sampson (pictured) has taken a local village charity to court after claiming that youths using a neighbouring play area have taught her young child swear words

A lawyer has taken a local village charity to court after claiming that youths using a neighbouring play area have taught her young child swear words.

Solicitor Marie Sampson says she and her family have been plagued by noise and anti-social behaviour late into the night from yobs using a recreation area behind her £600,000 home in Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest. 

The popular £63,000 Multi Use Games Area – which includes sports pitches and is used by the local Cubs and Brownies groups – is run by the Brockenhurst Village Trust (BVT) and was opened more than two years ago following a community fundraising drive.

But since its opening, mother-of-two Mrs Sampson has logged more than 100 incidents that she says breach its opening hours with anti-social behaviour occurring beyond the 8pm designated closing time.

As well as bad language – which prompted her five year old child to ask what the F-word meant – Mrs Sampson has claimed there is evidence of drug taking and underage drinking.

She says anti-social behaviour has disturbed her family’s sleep and that work conference calls she has hosted in her garden office have been disturbed by swearing.

After branding the facility a ‘significant nuisance’, Mrs Sampson and her husband Martin have now – more than two years since they first complained – taken the Brockenhurst Village Trust to court.

While Mrs Sampson does not want the centre to close, she is demanding special £35,000 acoustic fencing be erected around the pitch and for it to be locked over night.

The court case has caused a rift in the historic village – which was once named Britain’s best place to live. 

Local residents have penned 39 letters of support for the Multi Use Games Area – with one loving local dubbing it a ‘wonderful asset’ while another saying it ‘shows off the community at its best’. 

But Mrs Sampson has letters and emails of her own from weary locals complaining about the noise. 

Mrs Sampson claims she and her family have been plagued by noise and anti-social behaviour late into the night from yobs using a recreation area behind her £600,000 home (circled, shown in relation to the recreation facility) in Brockenhurst in Hampshire's New Forest

Mrs Sampson claims she and her family have been plagued by noise and anti-social behaviour late into the night from yobs using a recreation area behind her £600,000 home (circled, shown in relation to the recreation facility) in Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest

The popular £63,000 Multi Use Games Area (pictured) - which includes sports pitches and is used by the local Cubs and Brownies groups - is run by the Brockenhurst Village Trust (BVT) and was opened more than two years ago following a community fundraising drive

The popular £63,000 Multi Use Games Area (pictured) – which includes sports pitches and is used by the local Cubs and Brownies groups – is run by the Brockenhurst Village Trust (BVT) and was opened more than two years ago following a community fundraising drive

Mrs Sampson appeared at Southampton Magistrates Court last week seeking a Noise Abatement Order against the charity – which is fighting her legal action. 

When it opened in February 2018 the trust described it as ‘a recreational facility that will integrate the community, irrespective of age or status, through shared enjoyment of sports and social interaction.’

However, it has now resulted in a bitter dispute with both Mrs Sampson and the BVT employing their own sound experts to argue over whether the noise breached health guidelines.

The BVT says they have been unable to make any compromise with Mrs Sampson on how to settle the matter out of court.

The trust said it had previously sought to build a fence requested by the Sampsons to stop balls from entering their garden – but Mrs Sampson had herself objected to the planning application.

Acoustics expert Stephen Gosling

Acoustics expert Daniel Oldaker outside Southampton Magistrates Court

Acoustics experts Daniel Oldaker (right) and Stephen Gosling (left) outside Southampton Magistrates Court

Since its opening, mother-of-two Mrs Sampson (her home circled, shown in relation to the recreation facility) has logged more than 100 incidents that she says breach its opening hours with anti-social behaviour occurring beyond the 8pm designated closing time

Since its opening, mother-of-two Mrs Sampson (her home circled, shown in relation to the recreation facility) has logged more than 100 incidents that she says breach its opening hours with anti-social behaviour occurring beyond the 8pm designated closing time

As well as bad language - which prompted her five year old child to ask what the F-word meant - Mrs Sampson has claimed there is evidence of drug taking and underage drinking at the Multi Use Games Area

As well as bad language – which prompted her five year old child to ask what the F-word meant – Mrs Sampson has claimed there is evidence of drug taking and underage drinking at the Multi Use Games Area

They also offered to erect acoustic fencing on the boundary of the family’s semi-detached property, provided they pay half the cost, but these plans were similarly rejected.

Though she is seeking a noise abatement order under the Environmental Protection Act, Mrs Sampson says she does not want the facility closed down – acknowledging that even her own children use it.

Instead she wants special fencing erected around the pitch which meets the recommendations of acoustic professionals, and for the facility to be locked at night.

Prior to the two day hearing, Mrs Sampson said: ‘The trust has dismissed every complaint from a number of neighbours and will not accept that there are any issues to be addressed.

‘They stated that they investigated complaints as to drug and alcohol use and found no evidence.

She says anti-social behaviour has disturbed her family's sleep and that work conference calls she has hosted in her garden office (her home circled, shown in relation to the recreation facility) have been disturbed by swearing

She says anti-social behaviour has disturbed her family’s sleep and that work conference calls she has hosted in her garden office (her home circled, shown in relation to the recreation facility) have been disturbed by swearing

After branding the facility (pictured) a 'significant nuisance', Mrs Sampson and her husband Martin have now - more than two years since they first complained - taken the Brockenhurst Village Trust to court

After branding the facility (pictured) a ‘significant nuisance’, Mrs Sampson and her husband Martin have now – more than two years since they first complained – taken the Brockenhurst Village Trust to court

‘However, other villagers have told us of alcohol being consumed when they have walked past and the police were informed about an incident of drug use following evidence being obtained.

‘Given that these are a small number of incidents over two years, I would expect the trust to focus on the noise issues generally, rather than making claims that they have made investigations and found no evidence when evidence exists that those incidents occurred.

‘In all my years as a solicitor I have not come across a position so unreasonable given the overwhelming evidence stacked against the trust.’

The trust insist that they have been ‘very sympathetic’ to neighbours, and have taken measures to respond to complaints; hiring two part-time caretakers and installing CCTV to monitor the site.

The proposed fencing will cost £35,000, the BVT said, more than half the original cost of constructing the facility.

The Brockenhurst Village Trust said: ‘The trust has worked continually to minimise nuisance, by adding padding to deaden noise and raising fences to minimise balls straying into neighbouring gardens.

‘We have met with the neighbour on several occasions, and made further efforts to minimise any issues.

‘These have been rejected.’

She is demanding special £35,000 acoustic fencing be erected around the pitch (pictured)- and for it to be locked over night

She is demanding special £35,000 acoustic fencing be erected around the pitch (pictured)- and for it to be locked over night

Last week acoustics consultants hired by both sides were called to describe the noises the Sampsons were hearing, and conclude whether or not they amounted to a ‘statutory nuisance’.

The court also heard audio clips recorded in the back garden of the house.

Judge Anthony Callaway is to publish a ruling on the case by the end of this month.

Letters of support from neighbours in favour of the play area were submitted by the defence for the judge to take into consideration.

As many as 39 letters were said to have been written by local residents, including one saying the facility was a ‘wonderful asset.’

Another letter said it ‘shows off the community at its best’.

As well as these letters of support, Mrs Sampson submitted letters and emails complaining about noise nuisances from the play area.

Judge Callaway mentioned a letter from a neighbour named Rosalyn who said she ‘had to play the radio to drown out the noise of the Multi Use Games Area.’

The recreation area sits next to the village hall and Scout hut and is used by, among others, the village primary school and local sports teams.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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