Pledge over vandal-hit playground
Published on: 26 Jun 2014
CHILDREN who have been told to stay away from a play area in Mangotsfield after arsonists set fire to equipment have been reassured everything will be done to reopen the site in time for the summer holidays.
The toddler play area in Springfield Park has been closed to youngsters since the incident which took place on the last Bank Holiday in May.
A large area of special matting has been damaged as well as a climbing castle which was set on fire.
Council officials have put the damage at £8,000.
Red and white warning tape now surrounds the site to ensure youngsters do not enter the area.
The arson attack has been greeted by disbelief by people living in the area.
Councillor Michael Bell (Lab, Rodway) said: "With the long nights and summer coming on children like to play on the equipment but now they can't which is a great shame.
"The people responsible must have used an accelerant like petrol because you can't cause that much damage by just putting a match to it. They must have walked in there with the deliberate aim of setting fire to it.
"It's just mindless vandalism - there's no reason for it and has deprived children of the use of the play equipment for however long it takes to get repaired."
His sentiments were echoed by councillor Kevin Seagar (Cons, Rodway) who said: "The young ones have now got nothing to do. There's no logic behind it - it's deplorable."
The attack is also a huge blow to the Friends of Springfield Park who worked tirelessly to raise money for the play equipment.
Vice chair Rosie Gosling said: "We have worked hard and it's taken a long time to raise money for the play area.
"We're sad that something that has been put there by the community has been taken away, albeit temporarily. The little ones had just got used to the fact there was something for their age group and now there's not much for them to do.
"We worry this might happen again but we're trying to stay positive."
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: "Unfortunately we have had to close off the play area in Springfield Park due to vandalism that took place on the Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May.
“We are currently talking with suppliers to replace the damaged play equipment and will carry out the necessary repairs to the damaged surface. Once this is completed we hope to have the area fully open in time for the summer school holidays. This incident has been reported to the police and we would urge anyone with information to contact the police by calling 101."
A police spokesman confirmed the incident had been reported and is being investigated. He said anyone with information about the person/s responsible should call 101 and quote 52681/14.
Who are the Friends of Springfield Park?
The Friends of Springfield Park was set up in December 2007 after South Gloucestershire Council sent a letter to nearby residents inviting them to a meeting in the park.
The park has been landscaped and some play equipment for older children installed including a zip wire, basket swing and wooden posts.
The old play area was removed and a new toddler one added several years ago after initial problems with drainage on part of the site.
In 2012 the park was awarded ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ status, which means the land is a gift from the monarch to the people and can never be used for development.
Members have worked hard to fundraise for facilities and apply for funding to make improvements to the park.
They have also taken an active role in keeping an eye on the park and reporting problems to the council and police as/when the need arises.
The Friends is looking to recruit new members as current membership is low. The presence of a friends group means that access to more funding can be made possible.
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