Northern Ireland park faces demolition after being burnt by vandals - more than £65k of damage caused
More than £65,000 worth of damage has been caused to a park in Ballymena following an arson attack over the weekend.
The People's Park in Ballymena was targeted on Sunday night.
I have spent years fighting for playpark upgrades all over Ballymena Borough. The vandalism at the people's park is an absolute disgrace.— Paul Frew (@paulfrewDUP) April 24, 2017
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Audrey Wales said the damage is significant and the area is now deemed structurally unsafe.
Councillor Wales said it could cost in excess of £65,000 to repair it.
She said: “The extent of the fire damage is significant and has meant that fencing will have to be erected around the whole multi-play area to keep children from entering.
“In effect, this mindless act means that our children are now being denied the chance to play outdoors throughout the summer months.
“It looks like the structure cannot be repaired as the uprights have been badly burnt making it structurally unsafe, which is a dreadful shame."
Councillor Wales said the earliest that the structure could be removed and replaced would be autumn.
“This kind of conduct is wholly unacceptable and I am very annoyed that this pointless act of sheer vandalism has destroyed a very important resource for our children.
“As we are now into the brighter nights when children should be outside enjoying the park, this is particularly galling."
Councillor Wales said as she awaits reports - most if not all of the play area equipment will have to be demolished and replaced.
She added: “At the present time this is estimated to be a figure well in excess of £65,000 representing an unnecessary and added burden to the Borough’s ratepayers."
Police investigating the significant damage caused to play equipment and windows at the People’s Park in Ballymena are asking for witnesses to come forward.
Inspector Doris Purvis said: “It is an absolute shame that damage has been caused to a play area that benefits so many children in the local area and I would strongly urge anyone with information about who is responsible to contact us on the 101 non-emergency number.
"Equally, if you saw any suspicious activity at the park overnight or during the early hours of this morning, please get in touch quoting reference 320 of 24/04/17.”