Devastated volunteers today told of their shock after yobs smashed up part of an historic Blackpool beauty spot.
Vandals have caused hundreds of pounds of damage by destroying stone steps at the Devonshire Road Rock Gardens, in Bispham.
We have experienced it a number of times when we have raised money for something and then the vandals have come in. And every time it is just a few who spoil it for the many
The steps lead up to The Vista community building and viewing point, which has been extensively refurbished by the Friends of Devonshire Rock Gardens group at a cost of thousands of pounds.
But now money set to be raised by a community event being held by the volunteer group, which was supposed to be ploughed into further improvements at the historic gardens, will have to be used for urgent repairs to the structure.
It is the second time the gardens, which date back to 1900, have recently been targeted by vandals – and it comes just weeks after a major spate of vandalism at another resort landmark, Stanley Park.
Last year yobs smashed part of the doors at the Rock Gardens pavilion, causing more damage which is yet to be fixed. Part of the area was also sprayed with graffiti last month.
Today ward councillor Christine Wright said she was “upset and disappointed” by the latest incident.
And concerns over the incidents have now got so bad that ward councillors are set to use some of their budget to fund CCTV, at a cost of tens of thousands, in a bid to deter troublemakers – as well as putting up signs around the park giving out the Crimestoppers number for people to ring if they see vandalism being committed.
Coun Wright said: “It is just wanton vandalism and what people get out of doing this, I don’t know.
“But it is very upsetting for the people who work so hard to make the gardens look nice for the community.
“We have reported it to the police who are carrying out investigations into who might be responsible for the vandalism.” The Friends group is holding a community day in the gardens tomorrow from noon until 3.30pm.
Coun Wright added: “We are having some costings done to see how much it will cost to repair the steps.
“But it is sad because on Saturday the Friends group is holding a fund-raising event with funds due to go back into the park to make improvements. But then this happens and it looks like anything raised will just go towards repairing the damage instead.”
Ann Park, who is a member of the Friends of Devonshire Road Rock Gardens committee, said: “It is devastating.
“We have had so much done outside the Vista and the steps are the access to and from it so they are very important. There is another way round but it is a long way.
“It is just mindless what has happened.
“We were looking forward to raising some money tomorrow for further improvements but now it will just go towards putting this right.”
There is already a dedicated park keeper at the rock gardens, and it is now proposed to install a CCTV camera to bolster security in the future, both funded by £25,000 from the ward budget of Coun Wright and fellow Greenlands councillor Chris Ryan.
The incident comes just weeks after The Gazette reported a spate of vandalism at Stanley Park.
Yobs slashed a trampoline with a blade and damaged swings and other equipment at a playground.
There has also been a previous attack on the trampolines, an attack on the swan boats at the boating lake and damage done to the Charlie Cairoli statue.
Elaine Smith, chairman of the Friends of Stanley Park, said: “I am really sorry to hear this has happened because we understand only too well how frustrating it is when you are raising money for one thing only for it to have to be spent repairing something damaged by vandals.
“We have experienced it a number of times when we have raised money for something and then the vandals have come in. And every time it is just a few who spoil it for the many.”
Since 2013, tens of thousands of pounds of community funding has been invested in upgrading and improving the rock gardens including the Vista.
The upgraded Vista building at the rock gardens was unveiled in June last year after a £30,000 investment of cash, including a £22,000 grant from Greenlands ward councillor’s budget and £5,000 from the Beacon Area Forum.
But in August, yobs damaged the pavilion doors at the facility.
Anyone who has information about the vandalism, which happened on May 7, is asked to report it to Blackpool Police by calling 101.
Lancashire Police has confirmed it is investigating the latest incident, on May 7. Call police on 101 with details.