Anger as newly-renovated Gosport play park is left scorched by yobs after suspected arson

YOBS have left part of a newly-renovated Gosport park charred and dangerous to play in after a mindless suspected arson attack.

Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 4:10 pm
A half-burned rope swing, scorched rubber surface and exposed spikes are pictured after a blaze at Grove Road Recreation Ground, Gosport. Picture: Katie Kirk

The park in Grove Road Recreation Ground was only refurbished last summer but had its rope swing and a section of its rubber surface destroyed by fire at the weekend. 

A picture captured by mum-of-two Katie Kirk shows half of the the swing burned away, with metal spikes that formerly held it in place it left exposed at waist height. 

The 39-year-old was shocked to discover the damage when she took her children, aged six and nine, to play in the park yesterday. 

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A half-burned rope swing, scorched rubber surface and exposed spikes are pictured after a blaze at Grove Road Recreation Ground, Gosport. Picture: Katie Kirk

‘The kids ran straight into the park but I could smell the burnt area from quite a distance,’ she said. 

‘When I got closer I realised it was far too dangerous for them to be playing there, so I got them out.’ 

The blaze comes less than a fortnight after the play area in nearby Forton Road Recreation Ground was targeted by suspected arsonists, on Saturday, May 18. 

The area was fenced up for renovation at the time and no arrests have yet been made.

The fire at the play area in Forton Road, Gosport, earlier this month

As damage at Gosport play parks continues to arise, Katie said residents are ‘getting bored of reporting it’. 

‘Every main park around Gosport seems to be being targeted,’ she said. 

‘You can’t let the children play in them and they get upset because they don’t understand what’s happened or why.

‘It’s a huge problem and it really does affect families.’ 

Other residents have also hit out at the suspected criminal damage in Grove Road. 

Tina Largan said: ‘I hope these people are found before they do anymore damage, this is very upsetting for all the children who use the park.

‘I don't understand why they do things like this, what does it gain?’ 

While Tony Robinson added: ‘We were at this park on Saturday afternoon and there were boxes of lit matches on the floor... So sad. Nothing is safe.’ 

Stevyn Ricketts, head of Gosport Borough Council's Streetscene team, which monitors the town’s parks, described the damage as ‘heart-breaking’. 

‘The attack at Grove Road follows similar incidents this month at Forton Rec play area, which was being refurbished, and at the new Alver Valley playground,’ he said. ‘

‘We've invested so much money and time in trying to provide modern, high-quality play facilities, accessible to all, and now it seems a small number of people are deliberately going out to destroy them.

‘We're sorry that residents have had their play areas affected in this way and we'll repair the damage as quickly as possible.

‘We'll also work with police and hope the culprits will face justice.’ 

He added: ‘These attacks have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage at a time when local councils do not have much spare money, but we'll do our best to continue to provide facilities for local families.’