One of Barnet’s most puzzling whodunnits was solved when the local council admitted it was behind the mystery disappearance of a popular public bench.
The big reveal came on Wednesday afternoon when the authority issued a statement confessing its engineers had confiscated the seating at the corner of Beresford Avenue and Russell Lane, in East Barnet, following complaints of anti-social behaviour.
Local councillors, neighbourhood police officers and the East Barnet Residents’ Association had been left scratching their heads when the bench vanished in around October - and last week, the residents' association made a fresh appeals for information as to its whereabouts.
All three groups had earlier been asked their views on the possibility of removing the rest stop to deal with groups of teenagers and problem drinkers loitering there at night.
The residents’ association wrote to dismiss the proposal on the basis the bench was used by elderly and disabled people in the day time and that any loiterers would simply sit on the wall behind the bench, should it be removed.
But in around October, the bench disappeared, prompting confusion among neighbourhood police officers, residents’ association committee members and local councillor Andreas Tambourides, who insisted he asked the council to leave the bench where it was.
The disappearance had remained unsolved ever since, but yesterday afternoon, soon after the Times Series put some its greatest minds to work on the mystery, Barnet Council came clean.
In a statement sent to the media, a spokesman said: "Following complaints from local residents and police that the bench had become a focus of anti-social behaviour, the council removed it.
“This decision was reached following the normal consultation procedure – with the majority of councillors agreeing to the bench’s removal.
“Residents are only consulted when a bench is installed, not removed, in accordance with standard practice."
The Times Series has asked the council for more information on its decision.