Vandals set fire to picnic bench at Hartlepool country park

The damage caused at Summerhill Country Park
The damage caused at Summerhill Country Park

A picnic bench specially installed for wheelchair users at a country park has been set alight by vandals.

Staff at Summerhill Country Park and Visitor Centre are appealing for information after vandals destroyed a picnic bench which was specially designed for wheelchair users.

A picnic bench specially designed for wheelchair users has been destroyed

A picnic bench specially designed for wheelchair users has been destroyed

The bench was set alight at approximately 9.45pm last night.

It is believed an accelerant was used as the benches were fire-resistant.

This isn't the first time vandals have targeted the country park in recent months.

Vandals destroyed an Iron Age replica roundhouse, which had been situated at the site for 15 years, at the end of August.

A nearby hedgerow was also damaged during the fire yesterday evening, which was originally planted by members of the local community following a donation from Woodland Trust funding. The bench was situated near the pond at Summerhill which is home to many different species’ of animals.

Police are aware and are treating the incident as criminal damage, but staff at Summerhill are urging members of the public to come forward with any additional information they may have that could aid investigation.

Claire McDonald, from Summerhill Country Park and Visitor Centre, said: “Once again it is the wider public that are suffering because of the mindless acts of a small number of individuals.

“We will be working to replace the bench so as not to negatively impact on the experience of wheelchair users that enjoy visiting our site, although sadly this will be a large financial commitment at the detriment of other much-needed resources.

“What is perhaps most sad to see is the time, hard work and dedication of our valued volunteers who worked together to make the area so peaceful and welcoming go to unnecessary waste.”

Members of the public with any information are asked to contact the police directly by calling 101, quoting crime number ‘CVP-18-203854’.

Summerhill Country Park and Visitor Centre, which is run by Hartlepool Borough Council, is a 100-acre site off Catcote Road.