‘Hospital is a magnet for trouble’

By Ariane Brumwell in Community News

RESIDENTS in Talgarth have spoken out about how the derelict Mid Wales Hospital has become a magnet for troublemakers with vandalism and other incidents affecting the wider town.

The abandoned former lunatic asylum has always attracted so-called urban explorers and ghost hunters, however the number of people visiting the site has increased in the past year.

Mike Greenow, who runs one of the small businesses, was disturbed in the early hours of Wednesday July 19 as a group of youths in cars, believed to have been at the hospital, uprooted a small tree outside his shop and chucked it on his van.

He said: “We don’t know who they are. There has been a lot of trouble around the hospital and in the area, but it’s the first time we’ve been targeted.

“They looked like they’d been drinking and they were smoking. The thing is, they’ve done it once now, so I can’t help but worry about whether this is something which is going to happen every weekend.”

Six cars full of abusive explorers were counted by residents around three in the morning that night.

Another resident to have been affected is Frances Morris in Ashburn, who has had her car’s wing mirrors vandalised twice.

The results of the latest incident were discovered by Ms Morris’s neighbour as she heard strange noises and laughing at 1.30am.

She said: “It’s just a nuisance really. I’m onto my second new wing mirror since March. It’s not a new car anymore so it’s expensive to get the right parts.

“The first time it happened I didn’t report it because I assumed it was an accident.

“A lot of tractors and other large vehicles come through here.”

The speed in the area is 30mph, however residents have said that even 30 seems a bit fast to be traveling the narrow road.

While the police have said there is a small chance of fingerprints being left on the destroyed mirror which they collected, there is a good chance the mirror was kicked off.

Ms Morris said: “The police have been brilliant, they’re coming up and down this road all the time. They’ve evidently been prioritising it. I don’t know what else they can do really other than driving up and down.”

A Neighbourhood Watch Scheme has recently been set up in the area with the hope of catching those responsible for the disorder.

There is also a Section 59 order in place from the Police Reform Act which allows police to give drivers causing a nuisance a warning which will stay with them for 12 months, in which time if they misbehave again their car will be seized.

The police are also patrolling the site as often as they can in the day and the night to help deter explorers from visiting.

Cllr William Powell said: “It is a right of way which is widely used by farms and residents. I don’t think they can save much of the building because of the asbestos, if it collapses it will have an awful effect on the whole community.

“In that sense I think the event which took place in Splott earlier this month when the trained construction worker lost his life is not irrelevant as it shows how dangerous derelict buildings like this can be.”