‘Stop wrecking our kids’ playgrounds’

Councillor Peter Mullineaux, South Ribble Borough Council's Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Street Scene, at a vandalised playground.
Councillor Peter Mullineaux, South Ribble Borough Council's Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Street Scene, at a vandalised playground.
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Residents in South Ribble have pledged to protect their children’s playgrounds following a series of attacks by vandals.

Damage costing tens of thousands of pounds has been caused across the borough, and children have been deprived of popular pieces of play equipment.

In the most recent act of vandalism, up to £30,000 of damage was caused to part of Farington Park, which is undergoing major refurbishment work.

Now, a group of four residents have contacted county councillor Mike Otter, saying they’ll put up a £200 reward to anyone with information leading to a conviction of the culprits.

Part of a newly-laid safety surface was ripped up and set on fire in the attack, destroying a brand new piece of equipment that had only just been installed as part of the £130,000 improvement scheme.

The playground had been fenced off while installation work was carried out.

After clearing up the damage, the council and its contractors are pulling out all the stops to reopen the playground as planned before the end of March.

But it will take longer to replace the wrecked play equipment.

South Ribble Council is also asking local residents to act as their eyes and ears and look out for any suspicious behaviour at playgrounds and parks.

Coun Peter Mullineaux, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Street Scene, said: “I am very angry and extremely disappointed that one of our playgrounds has yet again been the target of mindless vandalism.

“Our playgrounds are very popular and well used, so it’s an absolute disgrace that a small minority are attempting to ruin them.

“Taxpayers’ money pays for these projects, so the people responsible need to realise that it’s their neighbours, friends and families who ultimately lose out as a result of their despicable behaviour.”

He added: “I would ask all residents to be extra vigilant and if they see any suspicious behaviour, they should report it to the police immediately.

“If anyone can shed any light on who is behind the vandalism, I would urge them to come forward.

“This is your money that is going up in smoke.

“These mindless people need to be caught and dealt with before more damage is caused.”

Other incidents of vandalism in recent months have included a Mayflower play boat costing £10,000 being completely destroyed after being set on fire at Bent Lane playground in Leyland.

There was also vandalism to the play area at the hugely popular Withy Grove playground in Bamber Bridge, and damage to stone bollards around the north gate at Worden Park in Leyland, where sections of the maze were cut back, spoiling visitors’ enjoyment.

Anyone with information should contact the police by dialling 101.