Vandals set fire to pioneering play area

Play area off Great Greens Lane, Clayton Brook.
Play area off Great Greens Lane, Clayton Brook.
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A £100,000 purpose-built play area has been targeted again by vandals.

Firebugs caused significant damage to a wooden climbing frame at the facility, off Great Greens Lane, Clayton Brook.

The facilities were built in 2009 for the urban sport of free-running.

It was a joint venture between Chorley Council and social housing company Places for People, funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces Programme.

The project, which was the first of its kind in the country, was also hugely supported by local residents with the involvement of Clayton Brook Community House and young people in the area who helped with the idea and design of the equipment.

Firefighters tackled the blaze on Tuesday evening.

The current Mayor of Chorley, Councillor John Walker opened the play area more than four years ago when he was Chorley’s executive member for people.

He said: “After opening it years ago it’s very disappointing when vandals come round and do all these dreadful acts.

“I don’t know why people can imagine they can set fire to places because you put it right after and the kids go round and enjoy it again. I can’t see the point of it.”

Ward councillor Jean Cronshaw said: “Last time it was quite a lot of damage done.

“The idea was, it was designed by some of the young people and it’s just a shame, whoever it is, is determined to destroy everything.

“There’s been a lot of vandalism in Clayton as a whole. What’s causing it, I don’t know.”

Ward councillor Steve Murfitt said: “It’s been targeted a number of times unfortunately. It’s a shame because we’ve worked hard to get facilities for young people.

“How many times can you replace it before it becomes a waste to taxpayers’ money.”

A spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said they received five emergency calls about the incident, the first at 8.16pm.

He added; “When we got there we found it was a climbing frame on fire at the back of the Progress School and it was a wooden play structure.

“One fire engine attended from Bamber Bridge and we were there just over twenty minutes. We believe it was deliberate.”

In August 2013, a fire destroyed 10 square metres of rubber play area and the fibreglass play structure.

The area hadn’t yet been reinstated because discussions with community groups, local councillors and youngsters in the area had led to suggestions for it to be turned into a skate park and this is currently being investigated.

This time rope swings, scramble nets and play matting suffered fire damage.

Chorley Council director Jamie Carson said: “We are hugely saddened and disappointed that this play area has again been targeted by vandals.

“There has been significant damage to the facility. We’ve made the area safe, now we need to review what happened and speak to the community groups, councillors and youngsters in the area again to assess where we go from here, and how we can try and help prevent this from happening again.

“I would urge anyone who may have information to contact the police on 101.”