Council’s plans for play area go up in flames

Vandals caused more than £10,000 worth of damage at a playground in Bedlington Station.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 3:33 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 3:36 pm
East Bedlington Parish Councillors John Batey, Alex Wallace, Allan Stewart, and Paul Hedley in the vandalised play area. Picture by Jane Coltman

They set fire to equipment at the Jennings Field facility in the Bank Top area and ripped up the rubber mats, which were placed there to save children from injury if they should fall.

Following the incident on Monday evening, which police are treating as a suspected arson, East Bedlington Parish Council has announced that it will now have to re-think the £100,000 facelift planned for Jennings Field itself.

The vandalised Bedlington play area. Picture by Jane Coltman

Long-time councillor Allan Stewart, whose ambition it is to develop Jennings Field even further into something special that the area could be proud of, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see this – they’ve deliberately destroyed what we’ve put here for the benefit of the community.

“This is how little respect they have for anyone else.

“East Bedlington Parish Council puts as much money as it can into provision for young people – it’s our absolute priority – and this is the response.

“It makes no sense. What have they proved?

“Where will our children play now?”

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Shortly before 9pm on April 29, police received a report of a fire at the Bank Top play area in Bedlington.

“Officers attended and found an item of play equipment had been set on fire. Nobody was injured.

“Police are treating the fire as suspected arson. A 12-year-old boy has been interviewed under caution and inquiries are ongoing into the incident.

“Anyone with information is asked to call 101 – quoting log 1095 of 29/04/19 – or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”

A Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We were called at about 8.45pm to the playground at Bank Top, where a lot of the equipment was well alight.

“The fire was then extinguished.”