Arson causes £30,000 damage to play area
A FIRE started deliberately at a children’s playground could keep it out of action through the summer.
Lara Southwell, Clive Heath and Michael Bell at the park on the morning after the arson attack
Arsonists caused damage to the rubber safety flooring at Springfield Park in Mangotsfield that will cost an estimated £30,000 to fix.
Police have questioned four teenagers about the incident, the latest and worst of a series of vandal attacks at the tucked-away park off Springfield Road.
About ten days earlier there was a previous attempt to set the safety matting on fire. Last December a play tunnel was wrecked in another arson attack, and had to be removed. Fencing was vandalised in February.
Residents, campaigners and councillors who worked together to get the £80,000 facility built have been shocked by the damage, which left some children in tears.
Lara Southwell, whose house is one of those backing on to the park, was one of several residents to call the fire service. She was also one of the original Friends of Springfield Park who raised money towards the facilities.
Lara said: “There were other people in the park at the time the fire was started and the really sad thing is that there were some children riding their bikes and laughing when the fire department was here.
“But the community uses this park a lot and now the other children have nowhere to play. My next door neighbour’s daughter was crying.”
Mangotsfield Residents Association chairman Clive Heath said: “Just to clean it up is going to cost a fortune.”
Staple Hill and Mangotsfield ward councillor Michael Bell said: “What is the mentality of those who cause this?”
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman said the damage was “significant” and early estimates were that it would cost £30,000 to fix.
He said: “Unfortunately, we cannot say when restoration work may be able to take place or indeed how it will be funded. We will keep the community updated, but obviously our initial focus is on the safety of children wanting to play.”
Avon and Somerset police interviewed two boys aged 14 and two girls, aged 13 and 14, in connection with the fire on May 13. Police enquiries are continuing before a decision is made on what action to take.
Neighbourhood police officers have called on parents to talk to their children about the vandal attacks like the fire on others and to encourage them to treat facilities with respect.