Less than four weeks after work on rebuilding the play park on Shaw Ridge, West Swindon was completed and only two since it was officially unveiled, the major feature – a long plastic tube slide – was destroyed by an arsonist on Monday 30 August. See pictures from the opening.
Parents and children, and local councillors are outraged by a criminal act which has deprived youngsters of an important play feature. And Shaw and Nine Elms councillor Nick Martin wants those who did it caught and is offering £100 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who committed the damage. Swindon Link magazine is adding £100 to the total.
Sarah Wilmott from Shaw, who contacted Swindonlink the day after the arson attack said she was pessimistic that the slide will be replaced. She said, "I am saddened that some people find this sort of mindless vandalism entertaining. A few minutes of stupidity has robbed local children of one of the key features of the playground. Mine were really looking forward to trying out the new playground and were shocked when they discovered that the slide was ‘gone.’
"I know that Swindon Borough Council probably doesn’t have the funds available to replace the slide, even if they did what could be done to stop it happening again?"
Surveying the grotesque petrified plastic where the slide was until Monday night, Year 11 Bradon Forest School pupil Danielle Murby from Shaw said she thought it was terrible vandalism. "It was really out of order and uncalled for. The young children really enjoyed using the slide, they were having a lot of fun and now it’s a total mess."
Kerry Manning, also from Bradon Forest, "some people might think it’s a laugh to burn down play areas, but they’re really really sad. They’re idiots"
Elishua West from Middleleaze said her children had visited the park nearly every day since it opened in mid-August. "They really enjoyed the slide; it’s just so disgusting that stupid people have destroyed it. It makes me so angry that these criminals just don’t think of others."
Her son Joseph, 8, said, "we loved going down the slide; the vandals are so mean to do this."
Helen Francis from Grange Park had brought her children Alfie and Louis to the reopening of the park on 18 August and are pictured sitting astride the tube. "We’ve spent hours at this play area over the last two weeks of the school holidays. We came here on Tuesday when there was still a smell of burnt plastic in the area. It was horrifying to see what the vandals had done; it’s just so frustrating that there are people in our community who enjoy doing this kind of thing.
"Both the boys attend Shaw Ridge Primary School and they were looking forward to playing on the slide on the way to school and on our way home."
Centre image, Danielle Murby, Kerry Manning and Danielle Sweeney with the remains of the slide
Alfie, 8, said, "the slide was a good one because it was really fast and you could come out the hole and land on your feet. The people who burnt it down are horrible."
Shaw and Nine Elms councillor Keith Williams said he was outraged to see the Swindon Link pictures of the destruction. "It’s absolutely disgusting that some people can show so little regard for their community. It angers me that such a mindless act will have an effect on so many people."
Councillor Martin said there is someone who gets a kick out of destroying play areas. "Last year a wooden tower in the play area close to the Salt Way Centre in Middleleaze was burnt down and in July vandals returned to cut up swing supports with a saw. It’s total insanity.
"The cost of replacing the play area and the slide at Shaw Ridge is about £30,000, money the council does not have. Parents and children who enjoyed the play areas have been deprived, and its costing parents who pay council tax. This criminal or the gang responsible has to be caught quickly which is why there is a £200 reward on the table for anybody who informs the police of who is causing this destruction."
To report whoever might have caused the damage, call Wiltshire police on 999 or e-mail Nick Martin on NMartin@swindon.gov.uk. To remain anonymous call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Pictured right, Nick Martin with PCSO Richard Lane of the West Swindon Neighbourhood Policing Team and Alfie and Louis Francis, who are can be seen enjoying the slide in the image at the top of the page.
‘Sociopaths must not be allowed to take territory’ Click to read how we covered the Middleleaze play area damage.
Click to see pictures from the relaunch of Shaw Ridge play area in mid-August.