CHILDREN have been left devastated after “mindless” vandals caused £10,000 worth of damage by setting a popular play area ablaze.
Much of the park, in Stour Road, Harwich, was left blackened and damaged after a wooden pirate ship went up in flames.
Mark Sturch, of Canning Street, was on his way to work at 3.20am on Saturday when he noticed the strong stench of smoke.
He said: “The ship is plastic coated wood so it was a horrible smell. I drove around the corner and saw the park was on fire. It was well-alight - the flames were quite high. My first thoughts were about the nearby tree and houses - it is quite a built up area. I dialled 999.”
Mr Sturch, 50, who works at Harwich International Port, added: “It is such a shame, the park has been there for five years or more and has never been vandalised.
“There is anger, as a lot of people use it. It is especially popular with younger kids because of the equipment.”
Harwich councillor Ivan Henderson said the damage had been reported to Tendring Council, which owns and maintains the park.
Cllr Henderson said: “It is absolutely dreadful It is a well-used and much-needed park for that area. It is sad for all those parents and young children that someone has done this. The younger children especially will be devastated. It is mindless vandalism plain and simple. As soon as I heard about this I reported it to the council and it is being investigated. The pirate ship will be replaced. There are ongoing issue with anti-social behaviour from a certain element living in Bathside going back several months. I am asking police to take action. I think residents have had enough and this is too far.”
Michael Talbot, Tendring councillor responsible for environment, said investigations were underway and urged witnesses to contact police or the council.
He said: “Hopefully it will not be necessary to close off the whole play area but we will know more once we have made a site visit and assessed the situation.”
CHILDREN have been left devastated after “mindless” vandals caused £10,000 worth of damage by setting a popular play area ablaze. Much of the park, in Stour Road, Harwich, was left...