Vandalism mars YFC convention

Police have called for help in tracking down vandals who caused thousands of pounds-worth of damage after the Saturday evening events at the Young Farmers Club convention in Torquay.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said that an investigation was under way into criminal damage to a green at the Torquay Bowling Club. The club is keen to press charges and see the culprits brought to book.

A bowling club official said that alarms sounded at the club at 0100 on the Sunday. Members arrived to find the £4500-sprinkler system smashed and the club flooded.

After it got light, further damage was discovered, to the green itself, which had the letters “YFC” painted in tar across the turf. Even so, the police said that they would not assume it was a young farmer that had carried out the crime.

“It may be someone who is using the YFC as a scapegoat so we have to keep an open mind, appeal for witnesses and urge the perpetrators to come forward.”

He confirmed that other bowling greens in the town had been damaged, including those near the conference centre where the convention was held.

Damage was also reported at hotels and other sites across Torquay.

In all, the damage bill ran into thousands of pounds, prompting Torquay’s councillors to call for a ban on YFC events in the town. But Torbay mayor Nick Bye said he would be guided by the wishes of local businesses which benefited from the extra trade.

That trade amounted to an extra £2m spent by young farmers on accommodation, food and drink, according to YFC communications officer Jane Lewis.

“The convention went without a hitch and it was well organised. The problems occurred outside the event.”

But she said she realised that was no comfort to the Torquay residents who had suffered, and pledged the YFC would do its utmost to identify the culprits.

“If young farmers were the perpetrators they have let down themselves, the organisation and the other 4000 who attended.

“We will do what we can to identify them and ban them from the organisation,” said Ms Lewis.

* Read our full coverage of the convention. You can also check our our exclusive video footage and read our Field Day blog from Torquay.

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