New playground equipment in Pulborough has been vandalised just a few weeks after installation, leaving the Parish Council ‘disappointed’.
Such acts have taken place sporadically over the last few years in Pulborough Recreation Ground.
But, a new low was reached after climbing apparatus in the shape of a ship was burnt in several places soon after being erected.
The ‘gallant ship’ that was selected by children at St Mary’s Church of England primary school and funded by the Parish Council will need repairs, but Pulborough Parish Council clerk, Sarah Norman, said this has not been the first time and is unlikely to be the last.
She explained: “We had this wonderful gallant ship installed with tunnels that the local kids from St Mary’s chose, but unfortunately teenagers have been trying to set fire to it.
“The corners of the supporting posts have all been melted.
“It’s extremely depressing to see.”
There is also an issue with broken glass in the village park.
“We also have bottles smashed, which the groundsman has to clear up to make it safe for the children.”
Measures have been set in place to prevent this from happening including night lights, but Peter Jones of Pulborough Local Action Group believes the precaution has not made a difference.
He said: “It’s a great shame that teenagers have been vandalising the new equipment.
“Lighting had recently been installed to keep them away, but it hasn’t stopped it from happening.
“We can’t block off the area at night from others walking through - it would look like a fortress.”
Playground equipment has been removed in the past due to ongoing damage.
Mrs Norman explained: “We had a high tower, which was a big climbing frame with a plastic dome at the top. The dome kept being set alight so we replaced it a couple of times and then ended up removing it all together.
“It’s just disappointing for the kids. They put effort into picking what they wanted and having it installed.
“It’s not setting a very good example for them.”
Parish Councillor, Joan Roach assured that steps have been taken to provide Pulborough youths a place to socialise to help thwart this behaviour.
She said: “The minor damage to the new play equipment should be viewed in context.
“There has been a considerable amount of work done recently to re-open Pulborough Youth Club, following a prolonged closure, in an effort to engage with young people in the village.
“However the issue of finding volunteers to help run sessions is problematic.
“Vandalism is a scourge of many communities that can only be addressed if residents are prepared to actively support the groups working in this area.”
Mrs Norman urges witnesses to report any sightings of vandalism to the police.