Fury as youths start fire at primary school

Coun John Walker at Whittle-le-Woods Primary School where youths broke into a shed and set fire to cushions
Coun John Walker at Whittle-le-Woods Primary School where youths broke into a shed and set fire to cushions
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Officials at a school in a Chorley village have condemned youths who broke into a shed and set alight to play equipment in an infant playground.

Whittle-le-Woods CE Primary School on Preston Road face a £4000 repair bill after a group of teenagers are believed to have set alight to some cushions in a gazebo on August 14 at 4pm.

Luckily, headteacher Clare Berryman was in the building and heard some noises from the back of the building and raised the alarm as the youths fled.

Coun John Walker, who represents the Whittle-le-Woods area and is chairman of the board of governors, says the fire could have been disastrous.

He said: “I don’t know how they would have got in apart from climbing over a fence.

“We have had nothing like this before but it is just silly that the fire could have spread to the gazebo and to some nearby trees with the branches falling on the roof.

“I believe there was between six and eight of them and the broke into a shed containing the play equipment and set the cushions alight with cigarettes.

“It is appalling and makes you wonder what they are thinking to come here and do this.”

Coun Walker believes he has a suitable punishment if the vandals are found.

He said: “I think they should come into the school and speak to the children and parents to say that they are sorry for what they did.

“They should explain to the infants why they will not have anything to play with.

“We are going to claim it back off the insurance but we cannot do anything about the play surface which has been damaged by the fire.”

A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary said: “We can confirm we are treating this incident as arson and a 16 year old boy from Bamber Bridge has been arrested on suspicion of burglary, criminal damage and arson. He is on police bail until August 30.

“Any witnesses or anyone with any information should contact police on 08451 25 35 45.”