Climbing equipment set on fire and wrecked by youngsters in Longridge’s Kestor Lane Play area is not to be replaced, councillors have decided.
The fibreglass boulder was drilled with holes, filled with flammable liquid and set on fire in a ‘purposeful act of vandalism,’ councillors heard at last week’s meeting. The police were informed but the perpetrators were too young to prosecute.
The boulder, a major feature in the two-year-old play facility, would cost £15,000 plus VAT to replace. An offer from Longridge company Carefoot Construction to rebuild it in local materials for £1,900 was rejected due to cost and the risk of further damage. The company’s security fencing, erected without charge around the boulder following the fire, was also vandalised.
Mayor of Longridge, Coun David Moon, has issued a plea to the community to watch out for acts of vandalism at the town’s play areas.
He is also to ask the town council to support his suggestion of offering a reward for any information which leads to a conviction of anyone committing acts of vandalism.
In a statement following the destruction of the climbing boulder at the Kestor Lane Play Area, he asks the people of Longridge to be aware of the damage caused.
“I also urge the community to inform the town council or police of any damage they witness,” he said.
“The town council has now taken the decision not to replace the boulder and that any future damage to equipment will result in its removal and, again, it will not be replaced.
“Due to tight budget restrictions, we feel the funds could be better spent elsewhere in the town, such as additional opening times for the public toilets, grants support for youth groups within the town - or perhaps even introducing security cameras at our play areas - a suggestion I will be putting to the town council at a future meeting.”
He added: “I am sure it is a small minority of irresponsible vandals who have spoilt the recreation facility at Kestor Lane. It has been well used and I would urge any youngsters to also report any acts of vandalism to parents, teachers, school heads, councillors and the police.”
The town council will be talking to heads of primary and secondary schools to ask them to highlight the vandalism issues during school assemblies.”
With Lottery and Ribble Valley borough council funding, the Kestor Lane Play Area was opened in April 2011 in conjunction with the opening of the Old Station and Heritage Centre. Ribble Valley mayor at the time, Coun Lois Rimmer, who opened the Old Station complex, also enjoyed a ride on the play area’s zip wire.
A notice welcomes visitors, stating: ‘Please use this play area safely and responsibly and report any incidents or damage to 01772 782461,’ giving the nearest phones at Berry Lane Health Centre and the police station and adding the equipment was suitable for eight to 14 year olds. Following the removal of the climbing boulder, the site will be resurfaced and will give increased space for basketball players.