Yobs cause up to £10,000 of damage at much-loved Hardwick Park after setting light to landmark

Partying vandals have caused thousands of pounds of damage to an in a suspected arson attack.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 1:29 pm

The Temple of Minerva at Hardwick Park, near Sedgefield, sustained damage estimated at between £5,000 and £10,000 after being targeted in the night time gathering.

It is believed a wheelie bin was propped against the temple and set alight, causing severe fire and smoke damage and leaving molten plastic stuck to its flagstones, with smashed glass bottles and rubbish were left littering area.

Durham County Council, which owns the park, has sealed off the area and officers are assessing the damage, which it says will be an “unnecessary drain on resources.”

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Images released by Durham County Council show the party ongoing and the damage found in the aftermath.

On the same night, a metal sculpture was pulled from its concrete base.

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The incident, on Friday, March 19, was attended by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS), with Durham Constabulary investigating.

The council has handed video from a witness to police, showing a crowd of what appears to be young people, with some jumping over the flames to shouts of encouragement.

The Temple of Minerva is one of four Gothic ruins in the grounds of the park which were restored following a £4.1million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, with work completed in 2010.

Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of environment, said: “The Temple of Minerva is a truly wonderful spectacle much enjoyed by visitors to Hardwick Park and we are sure people will be saddened to hear of this incident and the damage caused.

“Having seen the footage, it is clear that the people filmed were putting themselves in serious danger by standing so close to an uncontained fire, and in some cases jumping over the flames.

"Those in the footage were also clearly not obeying coronavirus restrictions purely in terms of the number of people gathered.

“We are grateful for the assistance we’ve had from our police and fire service colleagues following this incident and would urge anyone with information to please report it to Durham Constabulary on the 101 non-emergency number.”

Dave Glendenning, divisional manager south at CDDFRS, said, “With the Easter holidays fast approaching, and with Covid-19 restrictions set to be easing, we want to advise all parents and carers to play their part in helping to prevent these types of incidents.

"These types of incidents take our valuable resources away from where they are needed most and can have a devastating impact on the community.”

Information can also be passed to Firestoppers anonymously on 0800 169 5888 or via www.firestoppersreport.co.uk.

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