Thieves steal metal from Shipdham skatepark

Thieves have cut sheets of metal from a skatepark ramp just months after a Norfolk village came together to give youngsters a much-needed play area.

The damage was discovered this week after a group of youths headed to Bullock Park in Shipdham after school.

Paul Chubbock, parish council chairman, said he was called by one of their fathers on Tuesday afternoon. 'They went up there to do some skating, only to find a big section of it missing,' the local businessman, who helped create the play park as part of the Shipdham Recreation Project, said.

'Some people have gone up there and physically cut off two sheets of aluminium – about a quarter of the ramp. You can see they have tried to take other parts too.'

Police believe it happened between 3pm on Sunday and 4pm on Tuesday.

It has left the skatepark unusable and many children and teenagers extremely disappointed.

Mr Chubbock, 42, said he expected it to cost at least �1,000 to replace the metal – which has a high scrap value – and would once again have to rely on villagers to carry out the repairs.

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He added: 'We had recently got enough money together to enlarge the skatepark area. Now we're going to have to use that money to repair what we've already got there.

'The kids were going to have an even bigger skate area - it looks like that might possibly be lost now.'

The skatepark was installed in September, less than two years after a group of youngsters from the village had approached the town council.

The youths, all keen skateboarders and BMX riders, had got together a petition asking for the equipment which they handed in to a council meeting.

Members, including Mr Chubbock, had been impressed with the presentation and a separate group - not linked to the local authority - was created.

The Shipdham Recreation Project successfully won �10,000 of lottery funding while the parish council also put �10,000 towards it.

Villagers also came together to help with one person donating �5,000 and others offering money, equipment and their time.

It meant they could build not only a �10,000 skatepark but also a playpark for the area's children.

Mr Chubbock, who was born in Shipdham, said the youngsters also played their part. 'One Saturday afternoon, seven or eight kids – the ones who had originally asked for the ramp – came up to the park and helped install it. As soon as it was going in, they were all there - tightening bolts, fixing it up.'

The parish council chairman said, every time he walked past the park, he saw children using it. Even during the cold snap before Christmas, youths had cleared snow off the ramp so they could continue skating.

Anyone with information about the theft should contact police officers at Watton's safer neighbourhood team on 0845 456 4567.