Extra police patrols have been promised for a Barnsley park blighted by young firebugs who have struck twice within days and left a sports pitch out of action.
Police and firefighters had to be called to Cudworth Park on Friday evening after a blaze was spotted on the MUGA, multi use games area, involving wheelie bins taken from an old folks’ estate nearby.
It was the second time within days a fire had been started using the same method and Coun Charlie Wraith called in the emergency services after the fire was discovered.
He said he had spoken to police since the incidents and they were now planning to give the area additional attention.
Youngsters who congregate in the park are as young as 11 or 12 years old and have little respect for authority, he said.
It appeared police had located some of those who were present on Friday evening and was now hopeful action would be taken to prevent a repeat of the damage, with police also planning an increased presence in the area.
The MUGA was left too badly damaged to be used, with the hard playing surface cracked and buckled, meaning it will have to be dug up and replaced by Barnsley Council.
Coun Wraith said the charred debris from the bins’ contents included aerosol cans, which could have exploded in the heat of the blaze, creating a potential risk to those responsible as well as others.
Hours before Friday’s incident, there was another problem with anti social behaviour which led to police being called around 5.30pm, with youths “causing mayhem” on a side street off Barnsley Road.
One resident’s door was apparently hit with a hammer, leaving two holes punched in the surface.
“They are only 11 or 12, but you get backchat from them, there is no fear of the police or PCSOs. Parental control is lacking.
“It is getting worse in Cudworth. We do our best to improve the park but it is difficult when things like this are happening,” he said.
Park users have reported seeing groups of youths out as early as 6.30am, spending all night in the grounds.