Appeal after repeated arson attacks on Sunderland parkland putting homes at risk

Freshly cut grass in a Wearside park has been set alight by vandals for several days in a row, prompting anger as homes and gardens have been put at risk.

The Barnes Park Extension between the Grindon and Thorney Close areas of Sunderland has been subject to four or five arson attacks over the past few days, with youths setting fire to freshly cut grass.

Although the park is owned and managed by Sunderland City Council, grass in the park is cut by a local farmer who then collects it in the form of hay bales for use on the farm.

However, in the few days between the grass being cut and collected it has been set alight by vandals on numerous occasions, prompting anger from those living nearby.

Stephen O’Brien, Local Lib Democrat councillor for Grindon and Thorney Close has appealed to anyone who has any information on this to come forward.

He said: “Whoever has been responsible for setting these patches of recently cut grass alight are not only wasting huge amounts of the Fire Brigade’s time and money, they are ruining the park for everyone.

“Local residents living nearby are having to keep doors and windows closed until the fires are put out, whilst people with illnesses and breathing conditions are worried sick, and residents whose gardens back onto the park who are worried in case the fires spread to their properties.

“The huge fire at allotments in Southwick a few days ago shows just how much damage can be done when fires like these spread. Thankfully the fire brigade have been brilliant, but we shouldn’t have to put up with these mindless arson attacks.

“I’m encouraging anyone who may know who is responsible to contact the police or the council so they can try and catch those behind these mindless attacks.”

A spokesperson for Sunderland City Council said: “It is very sad to see mindless acts of vandalism in our community and we continue to work closely with the police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to prevent them.

“We ask everyone in the community to help us protect our facilities so they can be enjoyed by as many people as possible without disruption.

“Anyone who has concerns about damage and vandalism in our parks and play areas should contact the council on 520 5550 or Firestoppers anonymously on 0800 169 5558 or at firestoppersreport.co.uk.”

Chronicle Live – Sunderland