Parents’ anger as play equipment in park is set on fire

A 'burnt-out swing at Bidbury Mead after being set alight by vandals.''Picture: Ken Smith
A 'burnt-out swing at Bidbury Mead after being set alight by vandals.''Picture: Ken Smith
Roger Giese

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ARSONISTS set fire to a children’s playpark causing £1,400 of damage.

Parents and community leaders have spoken of their disgust after the blaze in a basket swing at Bidbury Mead in Bedhampton.

It is the second attack in six months at the playground, where £100,000 of state-of-the-art equipment was put in last year following a massive community effort.

Last October the large swing cradle was stolen by thieves.

The latest attack destroyed rubber safety surfacing and it will be up to Havant Borough Council, which owns the park, to fix the damage.

Police are investigating the incident and are in talks with the council about ways to make the area safer.

Local parents are angry.

Mum-of-two Jade Armstrong, 23, of Palk Road, Bedhampton, said: ‘CCTV needs to be installed to protect such a lovely park, otherwise the council will have to keep replacing things.

‘It’s not the first time it has been vandalised since being opened.’

Kat Mitchell, 32, of Middle Park Way, Leigh Park, added: ‘Many older teenagers hang around in playgrounds shouting and are up to no good. It’s scary to go in with little children.’

Bedhampton councillor Ken Smith said: ‘We as a council are looking as to what we can do to make places like play areas safer.

‘It’s important that we don’t let the vandals win, because places like Bidbury Park are very popular with younger children.

‘Vandals must not be allowed to destroy community spaces and deny other people the use of the facilities.’

Initial funding for the playground was granted by Hampshire County Council. It was decided not to install fencing.

Cllr Smith said he has had reports of people driving into playgrounds with a view to cause damage.

Council officials are talking to local police beat officers about what can be done.

Cllr Smith added: ‘We have been in talks with the police about getting more patrols in the area, but it is something we would have to secure funding for first.

‘I personally would like CCTV put in the trees or at certain vantage points as it is something that will really deter people if they are caught on film.’