£20,000 bill for park vandalism

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VANDALS who damaged football pitches at a village park more than a year ago could end up running up a bill of more than £20,000.

SPARC, which runs Glen Park in Surfleet, claims it faces paying the shocking figure to install security gates and repair the ruined pitches, which were left rutted by youths driving cars onto them.

Damage was also caused to the car park.

The group has also lost almost £5,000 in revenue as it has been unable to hire out the pitches for two football seasons as they are still in an unusable and dangerous condition.

SPARC spokesman Doug Whyles said: “We had problems last summer with youths coming down here in cars and on motorbikes and quad bikes, tearing around on the grass and churning up the pitches.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t treated as criminal damage by the police, which I think it should have been because we have been left with a repair bill which I estimate will be for about £8,000.

“Officers did speak to those responsible but no one was ever brought to court.

“It is just frustrating and disappointing as we take great pride in what we provide here and now we have got to raise the money somehow to make these repairs.”

The group is now in the process of installing gates at the main entrance at a cost of £5,000.

If gates are installed at two other vehicle accesses in the future, that will cost a further £10,000.

Mr Whyles said: “Even then, if these people really want to get in they will still find a way.

“They don’t care about how much money it costs us to repair the damage, which is a sad indictment of our country these days.”

As well as the damage to the football pitches, Mr Whyles says the play area of Glen Park has also suffered minor damage.

One of the worst incidents involved cooking oil being poured on play equipment.

Mr Whyles said: “That sort of thing is expensive to repair or clean up but it doesn’t matter how much you talk to these youngsters about how much money it costs, they take little notice.

“But compared to some places, the damage has been fairly minor.”