A campaign to stop the repeated vandalism of play equipment in Thanet has been launched by a Ramsgate mum.
Karina Barker, who runs independent company The Lovely Liquorice Company, has created facebook group Protect Thanet’s Play Areas after taking her two-year-old to the Memorial Rec park in Broadstairs on Monday to discover vandals had targeted it.
Part of the equipment at the site, which was installed after a campaign by residents in 2015, had been burnt out.
Ms Barker said the aim of the campaign is to get CCTV installed and signs warning that criminal damage will be punished.
The Memorial Rec fire follows similar incidents at King George VI Park and Ellington Park in Ramsgate.
Fire damage/vandalism at Memorial Recreation Ground. Play area closed for health&safety reasons. Will keep you updated with repairs progress pic.twitter.com/Ou399vNwpO
— Communications Team (@ThanetCouncil) May 2, 2017
Ms Barker said: “Not only are these incidents upsetting, they are also a message that, for some people, it’s OK to burn things that aren’t yours, a very dangerous mindset.
“We intend to put pressure on Thanet council to install CCTV and warning signs in all Thanet’s play areas, making it clear that criminal damage is illegal and won’t be tolerated.
“We understand that there’s a limit to what the council can afford to pay.
“Working with the council and other partners, we intend to partly crowdfund this project, tapping into some of the many community funding projects that exist for exactly these kinds of situations.
“It might even be possible to go into local schools and explain the dangers of getting involved with this sort of crime. Not just the immediate dangers of playing with fire, but also the long-term effects of getting a criminal record for something as serious as arson.
“But we need numbers, people willing to support this idea.”
Ms Barker is appealing for people to join the group.
Thanet council said the play area is now closed for health and safety reasons.
A Kent Police spokesman confirmed the incident is being investigate.
A spokesman said: “Kent Police received a report of arson to play equipment at the Memorial Recreation Park in Lawn Road, Broadstairs, between 9pm and 10pm on Monday 1 May 2017.”
Anyone with information can call 01843 222289 quoting reference ZY/17425/17.