VANDALS have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage after setting fire to a new children’s playpark.
A combined climbing frame and chute at the park in Church Place, Fauldhouse, was destroyed in the blaze.
The new equipment was only installed by West Lothian Council last August at a cost of around £55,000 after children helped design the play area.
Residents and politicians described the attack as “mindless” and “sickening”.
Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward, while West Lothian Council said the equipment would be replaced as soon as possible.
Anne Purdie, headteacher at St John The Baptist RC Primary School, which is less than a five-minute walk from the playpark, branded the vandalism “shocking”.
She said: “The children were really disappointed that people could do this to something so new. It’s as if they took pleasure in it – it’s just awful.
“The playpark was designed in consultation with the children so they had a huge say as to what it looked like.
“The school was going to use the playpark in the forthcoming months as a treat for the children. The teachers were going to take them as part of their golden time, so that’s another thing that has been affected.”
Mother-of-three Karen McDonach, 41, lives adjacent to the playpark and said her son, Michael, 11, regularly played in it. “The main area, the climbing frame with the chute, has been fenced off now so the children can’t use it,” she said.
“As far as I know, the zip slide and swings are OK. There are quite a lot of young children who use the park.”
Meanwhile, Neil Findlay, Lothians MSP and councillor for Fauldhouse and Breich Valley, said: “This act of mindless vandalism is such a waste. The park at Church Place was recently upgraded to serve the children of Fauldhouse and to see it destroyed in this way is sickening. It was a great facility for young children to get out and about in the fresh air.
“I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward and contact the police.”
West Lothian’s executive councillor for the environment, Robert De Bold, said the fire was a “despicable piece of vandalism that will deprive local children of play facilities”.
“The park was only upgraded recently, with the local community having their say into what should be in the park,” he said.
“With spring and better weather approaching, we will now be working to get the equipment replaced or repaired as soon as practical.”
A police spokesman said investigations were continuing into the vandalism, which happened sometime during the evening of Monday, January 30.