Community in fight to beat park vandals

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Vandals who destroyed children’s play equipment at a park in Kirton have left community leaders and residents enraged and devastated.

But locals have vowed to come together to do all they can to ensure the yobs don’t win and the play area remains.

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The large climbing frame in Dame Sarah Swift Park was set alight sometime before 8pm on Saturday night, and has now been removed after council inspectors condemned it.

And the initial reaction of the parish council chairman was that they should close the play area because of the attack.

But after a huge reaction from the community, David Danby now hopes the parish council and local residents can work together to find a way to save the facility, which is heavily used by young families. And there will be a number of meetings over the next few weeks to try and find a way forward.

Firefighters from Kirton were called to the scene at 7.51pm to extinguish the fire, and said the cause was deliberate.

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One of those who called the brigade was nearby resident Fiona McAllister.

She said she had been aware of problems with older teenagers in the park, drinking and smoking drugs.

“This is just shocking that this can happen. So many young families go in there and enjoy this park, and this has just absolutely ruined it,” she said.

Cllr Danby, chair of Kirton Parish Council, spoke to the Standard after talking to community groups at a council open session yesterday morning. He said he was devasted when he heard the news on Saturday night.

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“My gut reaction was considering the problems we’ve had in the past and the amount of work that has gone into it, for someone to ring me and tell me about this, I was absolutely devastated. And on Saturday night, I personally – and it was not a council view – felt we should close it,” he said.

But after posting a comment to that effect on Facebook, a number of members of the community have come forward to try and help save the play area, with a Kirton Community Group now being set up.

“It has done one thing; it has gelled the community together and we will work together to do something about it,” Cllr Danby said.

The parish council is to have its own meeting next week to look at its response and what it can do, and this will be followed by a parish council public meeting at Kirton Town Hall at 11am on October 5.

The newly formed community group is also set to have its own meeting on October 6 at Kirton Leisure Centre.

Cllr Danby said: “ I was enraged on Saturday night, but if we could find successful ways of doing it and policing it that would be great, and yes, we shouldn’t let them win.

“Because if we close it and it disappears completely then to a degree they have won.”