A Derry man has called for action to tackle repeated episodes of destruction at Bull Park, warning that much of the play facilities installed were now destroyed.
The local man said his own children, like others from the area, can no longer use the John Clifford/ Bull Park due to the destruction.
He also warned that children and parents were also too intimidated by the gangs of youths congregating there regularly to even enter it.
The man was speaking following the latest incident on Thursday night during which the Fire Brigade had to attend after youths started a fire under the swings. A slide for children on the climbing frame was also recently badly damaged, while a see-saw was also trashed and had to be removed. The park was closed on Friday due to the actions of the arsonists.
He said: “It seems that young people brought a big carpet in and set it on fire, but this has been going on for weeks. They seem intent on wrecking the park - there’s nothing in it. I have children and taking them there is not even an option.
“There are groups of teenagers hanging about ‘f’ing and blinding’, lighting fires and smoking e-cigs, and that’s not something you want your children around. It’s intimidating. I did go down and speak to them a couple of times and they more or less rolled their eyes.”
Some residents have suggested CCTV is needed, while many want to see more patrols and monitoring of the park, as well as the restoration of play equipment. Parents have also been urged to make sure they know what their children are up to and to supervise them.
The local father called on young people to “have a bit of respect for your own neighbourhood”, and said they needed to be educated about the implications of destroying equipment for the wider community.
Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said there is anger in the local community over the vandalism. “This is a great facility right in the heart of the community and the last thing we want to see is wanton acts of destruction. The local community campaigned and lobbied hard for many years for this park to be redeveloped we cannot let a small handful of people turn the clock back,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Council said that Bull Park had to close on Friday “to carry out repair work to address damage caused by vandals”.
She added: “The park has been targeted on a number of occasions in recent months and we would like to make an appeal to the public to please respect the park and its equipment. This is a shared community space for local families and it should be an open and welcoming facility for everyone to enjoy. The incident has been reported to the PSNI and community safety wardens will now be stepping up patrols in the area. The park will reopen as soon as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience.”