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New play equipment vandalised at Swanley Park

By Rachel Dixon

A group of youths used a metal spike to batter new play equipment that was specially designed for disabled children.

Four boys and one girl attacked the wheelchair friendly swing at Swanley Park in New Barn Road.

The equipment, which is worth £30,000 had only been installed for the Easter holidays on April 6.

From left, park supervisor Barney Simmons, director Ryan Hayman and supervisor Charlie Lambert guarding the swing
From left, park supervisor Barney Simmons, director Ryan Hayman and supervisor Charlie Lambert guarding the swing

Park director Ryan Hayman said: "The group were there for quite a while and they were just hitting the equipment with anything they could find

"At first it was sticks but then they managed to get a metal spike.

"They were grabbing anything they could."

It happened on Friday evening and the 26-year-old lives on site in the park so rushed over to try and stop them.

He said: "It's just disrespectful.

"I had to go to move them away and eventually they left it but they kept loitering around the park"

The wendy houses in the Great Outdoors play area in Swanley Park have been vandalised
The wendy houses in the Great Outdoors play area in Swanley Park have been vandalised

"The equipment was in place for eight days maximum, for it to be targeted already is just so disappointing.

"It's actually designed not to be vandalised, you need a key to get on the swing if someone isn't using it.

"But I think that encourages the children to vandalise it as they see it as more of a challenge."

The incident has been reported to the police.

This comes after The Great Outdoors play area was turned upside down and damaged

Vandals hauled Wendy houses over, shoved over tables and pushed over play equipment.

Mr Hayman said: "The equipment was fully secured into the ground, so whoever it was must have uprooted it on purpose.

"The equipment was in place for eight days maximum, for it to be targeted already is just so disappointing" - Ryan Hayman

"It's so disappointing, we can't continue improving Swanley Park because we are wasting time cleaning up all this mess.

"We get small things like graffiti but this was ridiculous.

"It would be great if we had more security but the park can't be manned 24/7 we would go bankrupt.

However, the park director and his park supervisors Barney Simmons and Charlie Lambert are determined to stay positive.

Mr Hayman added: "We can't give up.

"The improvements we make are for the 99% of the public that are great.

"It's that small percentage of people who will let everyone else down."

Police spokesman Martin Very said: "Kent Police was called at 6.30pm on Friday 12 April regarding a report that four boys and a girl were attempting to damage some swings in Swanley Park.

"Officers attended the scene but the children had left the area prior to their arrival.

"Inquiries into the incident are continuing. "

Anyone with information is asked to contact Kent Police on 01622 604100 quoting reference 12-1528.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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