|Ashfield Park Fire
The burned out basket swing.
THOUSANDS of pounds worth of damage has been caused at a Wigan play area, built for children with disabilities, after arsonists used dumped Christmas trees to start a fire.
Leisure chiefs today slammed those responsible for starting the fire at Ashfield Park, Standish which destroyed a roundabout for wheelchair users, a basket swing and the soft surface underneath the two pieces of play equipment. Early estimates suggest the equipment could cost up to £10,000 to replace.
The damage was reported to WLCT, who manage the site of behalf of the Council, at 10am on Monday 7 January and anyone with information is being urged to contact the police.
Christmas trees, which had been fly-tipped on the park, were dragged over to the play equipment to start the fire.
Cllr Chris Ready, Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, said: “We are shocked and outraged that someone would carry out such destruction on equipment that has been a wonderful asset to the community.
“This kind of criminal behaviour is hard to stomach at the best of times but when we are faced with huge cuts to our budget by central government the fact that we are now having to find the money to replace this equipment makes it particularly galling.”
The destroyed play equipment was introduced in April 2012 and was part of a wider Wigan Council project which saw more than £100,000 invested in play equipment at Ashfield Park.
Funding from Aiming High For Disabled Children, ensured installation of appropriate disability specific equipment to enable children with disabilities to enjoy the same play opportunities as their non-disabled peers.
Further funding from Wigan Council and the Friends of Ashfield Park ensured further play equipment was installed to make it one of the borough’s category ‘A’ play areas.
WLCT’s Greenspace services, who manage the site on behalf of Wigan Council, are doing their utmost to prevent further incidents by checking the area every afternoon and removing any trees that have been put there.
WLCT Chief Executive Stuart Murray, said: “We’re appalled by this act of mindless stupidity.
“We’d encourage people to have pride in their parks and urge anyone with information to contact the police.”