Vandals target Gosport play areas in crime spree

Vandalism at the Kings Road play area in Gosport. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142776-4)
Vandalism at the Kings Road play area in Gosport. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142776-4)

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VANDALS have damaged play areas across Gosport and in one incident even torched a tyre swing.

More than £11,000 of damage has been done in a spate of vandalism and arson in the town.

18/9/14  ''Vandalism at the Rowner Copse play area in Gosport''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142776-6) PPP-140918-183702001

18/9/14 ''Vandalism at the Rowner Copse play area in Gosport''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142776-6) PPP-140918-183702001

Thugs torched a tyre swing, damaged goalposts, wrecked a safety surface and forced Gosport Borough Council to close the dry side of the £250,000 splash park at Stokes Bay after a slide was damaged.

Community board chairman Councillor Graham Burgess said: ‘It’s very frustrating – it’s wanton vandalism.

‘In this austere time we have to look at what we can do.

‘Money isn’t ready available to do things like this.

‘I’m sure some of the residents must have seen what happened – if they did they should contact us.’

The council reported to Hampshire police on September 11 that a tyre swing and safety surface at Rowner Copse (pictured) had been torched.

It will cost the council around £5,000 to repair and replace.

Weeks before, the play area at Kings Road had been damaged forcing the council to close it.

That will cost around £5,000 to fix and the play area is still closed.

Aleksandra Zaporowski, mum-of-two, lives near the park. She said it was awful that people had targeted it.

The 36-year-old said: ‘It’s awful. The children keep asking me why they can’t play in the park and it’s horrible to say because other people have ruined it.’

Last weekend people swung on goalposts at Lee Rec damaging them.

And on Wednesday night the play park off Nobes Avenue was damaged with the safety surface being ripped up. It is expected to cost around £1,000 to fix.

Parents have said the vandalism is terrible.

Sarah Reynolds, 35, said: ‘What they have done is awful. The park is always being vandalised but they have totally ruined a section of it. The children play in there a lot and my daughter says it’s rubbish that people are doing it.’

Stevyn Ricketts is the head of Streetscene, responsible for play areas, at Gosport council.

He added: ‘We don’t like to close play facilities. The actions of the minority affect those who enjoy using the facilities.’

Police say there is no link between damage

POLICE say they aren’t linking the recent incidents of vandalism on play parks in Gosport.

Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed that it is investigating two of the crimes that have been reported by Gosport Borough Council.

A spokesman said: ‘On September 11, at 7.17am we were called to Rowner Copse where a rubber swing had been set on fire. There was fire damage to the swings and the tarmac.

‘On September 17, at 2.23pm we were called to the Splash Park where the fibre glass on the slide had been damaged with a sharp object.

‘We are not linking these two incidents and they are being investigated separately.’