Park arson slammed

A crew from Peterlee Fire Station tackles the fire at Welfare Park
A crew from Peterlee Fire Station tackles the fire at Welfare Park

PARISH council chiefs have slammed arsonists who caused around £4,000 of damage to a storage unit at a community park.

Monk Hesleden Parish Council hit out at yobs who set fire to a two-storey building at Welfare Park, in Blackhall Colliery.

The brick building, which features the cricket scoreboard and stores cricket equipment used by Blackhall Cricket Club, was targeted around 4.30pm on Good Friday.

It is the third time this month that police have been called out to the park.

It follows an incident two weeks ago, in which the park groundsman’s greenhouse was smashed up.

Youths spotted drinking in the park have also been moved on by the police.

Also this month, youths were seen riding bikes over the bowling green at the park, before picking up bowling balls and interrupting games.

Last month, bedding plants were pulled up and destroyed.

According to parish council clerk Lynda Wardle, if the fire had not been spotted by youngsters who reported it to the groundsman, it could have spread to nearby Castle Eden Dene. Mrs Wardle said: “We are coming to the end of our tether.

“We have managed to get a CCTV system, but we can’t patrol the park every minute of the day.

“We are appealing for people, particularly young people, to appreciate what they have got.

“It’s a constant battle with vandalism and anti-social behaviour up at the park.”

The parish council has already met the newly-appointed Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team Inspector, Dave Coxon, who has vowed to help combat yobbish behaviour in the area.

A crew from Peterlee Fire Station attended Friday’s incident.

Sergeant Steve Hawkes, of Peterlee Police, said: “We are working closely with the parish council and park staff regarding ongoing problems with anti-social behaviour.

“We take such reports very seriously and the community can rest assured that we are taking positive action towards anybody committing any offences, including anti-social behaviour.”

A Police and Communities Together (PACT) meeting will be held at 6pm on May 11 at Blackhall Resource Centre, in Middle Street.

Anyone with concerns about yobbish behaviour in Blackhall can contact police on 0345 6060365.