Original article from Kent Live
On the face of it, Pencester Gardens should be a delightful local spot.
Open lawns on the banks of the River Dour provide a pleasant area to relax in.
The spectacular Dover Castle looms on a hill in the background.
A pavilion for band concerts and other performances was built in 2000 to commemorate the new Millennium.
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The Millennium Path runs around it, made up of 100 flagstones, each commemorating an event in Dover’s long and fascinating history.
There's a play area for kids, and a skate park.
Yet for all these features and amenities, it's been rated by visitors as officially the worst thing you can do in Dover.
Tripadvisor gives it just 2.5 stars out of 5.
While some called it "beautiful", the majority are fairly scathing reviews.
"This could be a little jewel in Dover’s crown were it not for the fact that Dover District Council has let it become a tramp and drugtaker’s haven," said one user.
"I am scared to walk through here in broad daylight and would certainly not do so at night!
"To think that when I was a child, it was such a pretty park with the river and swings and I spent a lot of time here. What a waste."
Another: "When you take a walk through the park you don't get the feeling that you'd like to stay long. I certainly wouldn't want to take children there.
"I know the drinkers and druggies need somewhere to go, it's just a shame they have chosen what could be a lovely family space."
And another: "There are a large amount of drinkers and druggies in this park and although it is safe to use during the daytime, I really couldn't recommend a night visit.
"It is such a shame that it isn't used more and in a better way. There was no visible police presence and I think there should be one.
"The town has become run down and the park reflects this in every way. Dover could do better and should."
The good news is that things appear to have improved in recent times.
Dover District Council says it's been working closely with Kent Police, cracking down on antisocial behaviour and warning local shops not to serve alcohol to certain people.
The figures seem to bear it out too.
Across the first six months of this year, there were 27 crimes reported at Pencester Gardens, including four violent and sexual offences.
It compares to the first six months of 2019 (the early part 2020 was impacted by a strict COVID-19 lockdown) when there were 44 crimes reported, including 18 violent and sexual offences.
Going back further, the area used to average around 60 crimes every six months.
DDC also pointed out how the last negative Tripadvisor reviewed were indeed back in 2019.
It added it was looking to deliver more improvements as part of a wider development of the Stembrook area.
A spokesman said: “Pencester Gardens is an important local amenity, popular for its riverside walk, childrens’ play area, skate park, and bandstand (owned by Dover Town Council).
"Given its town centre location, the park has a high footfall and is a key thoroughfare.
"It is regularly monitored and maintained by DDC. We also work closely with Kent Police to address any anti-social behaviour.
“We are considering plans to further improve Pencester Gardens as part of the wider redevelopment of Stembrook.”