VANDALS are wrecking plans to turn a recreation ground at Fair Oak into a showpiece park.

In a trail of destruction, new seats and fencing have been set on fire and attacked with a pickaxe, dog excrement smeared across play equipment and the tops ripped off trees.

At the end of their tether over how to cure the vandalism epidemic, Fair Oak and Horton Heath Parish Council chiefs are holding a public meeting to discuss ways of combating the problem.

Tonight at the Shorts Road Village Hall, the council will discuss stepping up security, including the possible use of CCTV cameras.

Over the last three years about £25,000 - much of it provided through grants - has been spent on creating what is now known as the New Century Park.

A parish council spokesperson said: "We wanted to make it more attractive and user-friendly. But over the last few months the rate of mindless vandalism has increased in Fair Oak.

"Residents and members of the parish council are becoming increasingly alarmed at the amount of damage that is being caused by groups of thugs and the havoc they are wreaking.

"The council has spent considerable time and money carrying out improvements to the park in Shorts Road which residents have all welcomed.

"But it seems that some stupid mindless people cannot leave well alone."

In one revolting incident the contents of a dog bin were smeared across play equipment.

The groundsman had the unenviable job of clearing up the mess and making the area safe.

Fires have been set under new seats and panels of fencing burnt and destroyed with a pick axe.

The parish spokesperson said: "Most depressing of all for council staff is the relentless destruction of the trees which we planted a year ago.

"Of the 56 planted, 15 have now been broken off, despite the fact that they were planted as mature trees in an effort to make sure they were secure."

Most of the vandalism appears to have been carried out during the evenings and weekends.

And yobs congregating around the village hall have even been shouting obscenities through the letterbox while people have been in the building.

Groundsman Barry Hansell has had the time-consuming daily task of clearing up after the vandals, including picking up broken trees strewn across the park.

He said: "The trees were planted by local schoolchildren and it is heartbreaking to see what they have done to them."

Tonight's meeting starts at 7.30pm and it is hoped that villagers will turn out in force.

The parish spokesperson said: "The council will be discussing methods of heightening security and all members of the public are welcome to attend to express their views and to offer any ideas. A show of support from the community might be a good start."

An Eastleigh police spokesman said they welcomed the parish council's move to resolve the vandalism problems.

"We would also welcome the opportunity to contribute to that meeting," he added.