A TOWN councillor has said he finds it ‘bewildering’ that his council has remained silent about racist graffiti that appeared on a tree at a play park.

A Nazi swastika and offensive words were spray-painted onto a tree at the New Road Play Area in Woodstock last Tuesday.

The incident was reported to the police as alleged criminal damage and a suspected hate crime.

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Woodstock town councillor Sharone Parnes asked Mayor Mathew Parkinson in a full council meeting on Tuesday to speak out and issue a ‘strongly worded’ notice clearly recording the council’s ‘disgust’ at the graffiti and stating that the perpetrators should turn themselves in.

But Mr Parkinson said racism was a ‘touchy subject’ and he did not want to post a notice without first meeting with the council.

He asked for his colleagues to send suggestions of what might be appropriate to post online.

Mr Parnes said he was ‘disappointed’ by the response.

He said: “In this week of Remembrance events, and in a locality associated with the Churchill legacy, it seems particularly shameful that a town council appears more inclined to support an approach of quiet appeasement than to take a stand against destructive actions inspired by evil and which promote blatant hate.

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“I was disappointed that the mayor did not use his powers and position to take a stand, and instead left it vaguely to unspecified future consideration.”

Mr Parnes said other acts of vandalism have also taken place in Woodstock in the past two weeks.

He said a bridge at Water Meadows nature reserve, owned by the council, was closed after offenders destroyed some of the planks on the footway and Woodstock Town Football Club suffered a break-in.

The councillor also said there had been late-night trouble in the town centre with reports of nitrous oxide canisters left behind in the streets.

Mr Parnes wanted the council to address these incidents as well as the tree graffiti, encouraging people to contact the police if they had any information.

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Councillor Parnes said: “I would have thought the council would want to do everything possible to encourage cooperation with the police and enhance their efforts most effectively, towards making the town feel safer for its residence.

“But as in history, too many representatives seem reluctant and perhaps unduly cowardly, in the face of hate.

“I will turn to social media to encourage people who have an idea of the perpetrators’ identity to report to Crimestoppers, but it doesn’t replace an official town council announcement and I anticipate will result in resentment from some colleagues.”

If you have any information about the incidents, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.