STAFF, volunteers and gardeners at a community allotment have been left counting the cost after heartless vandals caused hundreds of pounds of damage.
Three windows were smashed on a greenhouse belonging to the Waverley Terrace Allotments Group, in Hartlepool, some time over the weekend.
Allotment bosses say three panes of glass measuring 3ft by 4ft were smashed with Dolomite bricks and will cost £180 each to replace.
The allotment is used by people with learning and physical disabilities, as well as people with mental health needs and children from Kingsley Primary and Springwell School.
Gardeners had not been able to get in to tend to their plants as shards of glass were left embedded in plantpots and pieces of glass were left hanging from the greenhouse roof.
Darran Hutchinson, a Hartlepool Borough Council team co-ordinator who helps to run the group, said: “It’s a community allotment for the people of the community.
“I would imagine kids are responsible for this – they see it as a challenge. They see a greenhouse and think ‘let’s see who can break the window first’.
“Nothing was actually stolen or damaged, it’s just a lot of inconvenience.
“All the bedding plants were due to go in for spring. Hundreds of plants were near the area affected and the schoolkids couldn’t go in that area until we could get a glazier out.”
It comes after the Mail reported last week that allotment holders had hit out at Cleveland Police Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer, who controversially said society needs to be more tolerant of young people and what the older generation often see as anti-social behaviour is “just growing up”.
In 2011, windows at the same site had been smashed twice in the space of two weeks.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We were called to reports that windows had been broken at allotments used by people with special needs.
“This is a community facility and for this to happen is obviously quite upsetting for people.
“We need to find out who the suspects are and would urge anyone with information to get in touch with us.”
Anyone with information about the incident should call police on 101.