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Community in shock after popular park is closed following an arson attack

PUBLISHED: 15:19 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:34 29 May 2019

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Pippa Hopwood

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Pippa Hopwood

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A community has been left in shock after a play area which they raised thousands to install new equipment for was torched in an arson attack.

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Pippa HopwoodChildren's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Pippa Hopwood

Police are investigating an arson which happened at the children's play area in The Footpath in Poringland on Bank Holiday Monday.

A teenage girl has been arrested in connection with the incident and has been taken into police custody.

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodChildren's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

The entire park surrounding the play area has been closed due to the health and safety risk of the now unstable children's equipment.

Police condemned the arson attack, stating it was a devastating blow for the community and for the children who are off from school on half term.

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodChildren's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

This view was echoed by families in the village, who described the play area as the go-to place for children from the nearby Poringland Primary School and Nursery for after-school activities.

Mother-of-three Victoria Jordison, 42, of Hillside, said the arson came as a shock and described the village as a safe area with minimal trouble from youths.

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodChildren's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

"Kids are normally good around here," she said. "We don't normally have any trouble.
"It's a shame that it's closed and we don't know for how long, it's a really popular park, lots of children play football there and ball games.

"That's the park me and my children go to, it's just a nice area.

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodChildren's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

"I'm sure the community will get together, we raise money for various things."

Kerri Maguire, 25, who has a three-year-old daughter and another baby on the way in August, said: "I think it's a shame, my daughter loved that play area and I'm gutted that someone would either do something that nasty or that stupid and careless.

Children's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodChildren's play equipment has been deliberately set on fire just as half-term has begun, The Footpath, Poringland. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

"It's a huge blow to the community and the young kids in the area."

Poringland Parish Council said it has been in contact with insurers to get the charred climbing frame and slide replaced as quickly as possible.

Council chairman Tim Boucher said around £60,000 had been raised by the community to install new equipment in the play area in recent years.

"It's hugely disappointing, it's right next to the primary school and it's the largest park in the village, a lot of children play there after school," he said.

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