Vandals trash brand new Hurst Grange Park playground after £225,000 renovation
Vandals have trashed a Penwortham playground which is undergoing a £225,000 renovation, just weeks before it was set to reopen to families.
The play area in Hurst Grange Park has been closed since January whilst major improvement works to take place, with the site being completely re-figured and new play equipment installed.
The council-funded improvements has cost around £225,000 and the playground was expected to reopen in the spring, but work has been set back after it was trashed by vandals on Monday evening (March 1).
Arriving on site on Tuesday morning, contractors found their work wrecked, with building materials broken and misused.
Fire crews had to be called out because liquid resin - used to lay the rubber safety surface in the play area - had been opened and carelessly splashed around.
The resin, which can be harmful to dogs and wildlife, had to be hosed off by firefighters before work could resume on repairing the damage to the playground.
Vandals had also slashed open a bag of sand and poured it into a portable toilet before tipping it over.
It follows vandalism at the park's Coach House, which is also under renovation nearby, on Saturday (February 27).
Locals said youths had been seen inside the building and recklessly climbing on scaffolding. Slates and ridge tiles had been thrown off the scaffolding and had smashed on the ground below.
South Ribble Borough Council said contractors are working with police to identify the vandals and, despite the damage caused, the park is still on track to reopen in April.
Councillor Matthew Tomlinson said: "I’m saddened that the play area at Hurst Grange Park – which is currently being refurbished – has been vandalised.
"Quality play areas across the borough are vital to support our resident’s health and wellbeing and for a someone to cause damage to the site is desperately disappointing.
"Our contractors on site are now working with police to make sure the person or persons responsible are found.
"While this will no doubt cause a slight setback in progress, the play area is still on track to open in early April."
A volunteer group who help maintain the park says it shares the Council's disappointment with the recent spate of vandalism and anti-social behaviour at Hurst Grange Park.
A spokesman for the Friends of Hurst Grange Park group said: "We were absolutely devastated by the news of the mindless vandalism carried out by some senseless individuals on Monday.
"The vandals trashed the play area which was nearing completion and this mindless damage may well delay the opening of the play area.
"The contractor’s materials and equipment was damaged, the portable toilet was filled with sand and tipped over and some resin used to lay the rubber surfacing was opened and thrown around.
"This resulted in the police and the fire brigade being called to deal with the resin spillage, some of which went on the main path through the park.
"This led to an area being taped off as there was a worry that the resin could cause harm to dogs paws.
"A sharp knife was used to slash through one of the temporary retaining straps and bags of rubber. The thought of youths carrying such lethal weapons in Penwortham is very worrying.
"None of us can begin to understand the reason behind this vandalism, which will cause a slight delay but hopefully the project will be completed very soon.
"We would like to thank the public for reporting this incident to the police and ask everyone to remain vigilant in the future."
To deter future vandalism, the group said it is working on installing CCTV in the park. It said a lottery grant has already been awarded for security cameras to be fitted at the Coach House when renovation work is completed later this year.
Anyone with any information on vandalism at Hurst Grange Park should contact Lancashire Police on 101.
South Ribble Borough Council has been approached for comment.