Residents and councillors in Woolston have spoken out against vandals that torched a children’s play area.

Crews from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service responded at 7.26pm on Saturday to reports of a fire at Archery Rec Play Area on Archery Road in Woolston.

In a Tweet, HFRS said: “The [St Mary’s Fire Station] crew have dealt with a fire involving the climbing equipment on Archery Road, Woolston - which will now need to be replaced.”

The climbing frame of the popular park had been set on fire, reducing the bridge section to a pile of ash.

The park is currently taped off, with officials saying the climbing frame will have to be replaced.

Daily Echo: Equipment at Archery Rec Play area in Woolston after it was set on fire. 11/1/21Equipment at Archery Rec Play area in Woolston after it was set on fire. 11/1/21

Residents vented their frustration on Facebook, with one resident Anna Barnes posting: “Absolutely fuming that some imbecile cretins have damaged some of our local playpark, rendering a large play frame unusable for now.

“This park is our safe place, where my toddler can walk about safely and my five year old can burn energy. It’s the same for number of families nearby.

She added “During these difficult times, I can’t understand who would want to destroy something so precious to children, that offers them a bit of happiness. I hope they’re proud of themselves and it was worth it.”

Labour councillor for Woolston, Warwick Payne echoed her frustration.

He said: “As soon as I heard about the fire I cycled up to the site and reported it to police.

“It’s frustrating for the council but the real victims are the children who use the Archery Ground play area.

“I often visit the Archery Ground with my daughter and it’s youngsters like her that end up suffering because of this kind of damage.

“With Covid-19 lockdown, many things that put smiles on the faces of youngsters are closed.

“Play areas are one of the few things left, and what sort of person does this to the children of their neighbourhood?”

Anyone with information about the incident is advised to contact police on 101.