VANDALS wrenched up picnic tables and benches, dragged them across Hinchingbrooke Country Park and threw them on a bonfire on Friday night. The vandals even had to drag the park furniture still attached to stone slabs before setting fire to them. Police a
VANDALS wrenched up picnic tables and benches, dragged them across Hinchingbrooke Country Park and threw them on a bonfire on Friday night.
The vandals even had to drag the park furniture still attached to stone slabs before setting fire to them.
Police are investigating the incident as arson and it has been that the estimated replacement cost of each combined pub-style table and bench is £500.
Senior ranger, Judith Arnold, said: "This was the worst vandalism this year - the worst since the Iron Age Farm was burned down in November - but in some ways, it causes less inconvenience that when they destroy the toilet doors."
Mrs Arnold said she had arrived on duty at 8.30am on Saturday to find three tables and benches missing and a plastic wheelie bin full of cans to be recycled "completely melted down." A metal bin had also been removed from its pegs but had not beenburned.
The debris had to be piled into three wheelbarrows.
Mrs Arnold said three groups of teenagers had been in the park on Friday night and were suspected of the damage. The duty warden had seen them and said goodnight to them.
She said: "We get a lot of support from the police including a CCTV van, which acts as a deterrent, but this is a wide open space.
"We don't want to stop people having parties in the park but we want to discourage them from leaving debris.
"There are 275,000 people who use the park every year and we think
there are about 10 to 15 people causing the trouble."
Mrs Arnold said she hoped that greater awareness might lead people to intervene and stop vandalism. "We are all guilty of passing by on the other side, we walk by and think a person doesn't look well and then we hear about a disaster and think if only I'd acted."
Ranger Peter Hobb, who has worked at the park for six years, added: "We have never had an incident like this before. Usually we get off lightly, compared to some other places."
However, a Huntingdon mother, who lives near the park, but did not wish to be named, described a sea of litter as a regular weekend occurrence.
She said: "The general public haven't a clue that it is going on because the rangers tidy it all up before most people get there.
"The rangers are really helpful. They know youngsters want to party and they even give out black bags saying: 'Have your fun but clear up afterwards," but the kids ignore them.