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Children injured as play areas targeted by vandals.

Byline: JESSICA FLYNN Reporter jessica.flynn@walesonline.co.uk

TWO children have been injured after vandals removed bolts from play equipment in parks in Tonteg, Church Village and Llantwit Fardre.

Llantwit Fardre Community Council, which looks after the parks, say three parks were targeted last week, despite checks taking place in all the public play areas.

In another sickening act, cans purposely cut in half have been found buried in the bark at one of the parks.

The community council took over the running of parks and leisure centres in the area when Rhondda Cynon Taf council was proposing to close them.

Councillor Anthony Raines, chairman of the leisure and amenities section of the community council, says it now has responsibility for 14 parks.

"The vandalism we have experience over the last few days and weekend has been unprecedented," he said.

"We have added new equipment to all these parks over the last two years and even invested in some training equipment for adults adjacent to the children's park in Tonteg. Our employees have been trained to carry out weekly inspections of all these areas to maintain the equipment and the safety of use."

On June 6, an inspection at Tonteg Park was passed but later that day the council said it received information a four-year-old child received a gash and cut to his head caused by the adult equipment in Tonteg Park.

"As soon as we were informed, another inspection took place," said Coun Raines. "It seems that on the Monday morning after the inspection, some vandal had damaged this equipment and had decided to remove two bolts from the apparatus.

"One of the bolts was found on the football pitch. This is what has caused the accident to this child and also another who received a crush injury. The apparatus is so heavy that it was difficult for two members of staff to lift it back up so it has been left on the ground.

"The area was fenced off and overnight more vandals have tried to remove the fencing. Following this incident, vandals then tried to set fire to the swings in Central Park Church Village. They have been removed as they were damaged including the ground safety padding so only one swing is left at present."

South Wales Police and the community council are investigating the incidents while RCT council says it is working to support the community council, which has been left "devastated" by the actions and it considering removing the play equipment to avoid more injuries.

Coun Raines added: "I would appeal to the public if anyone has any information about these events to contact either myself, the police or the council. If we cannot catch and or deter these people then our only option would be to take all equipment away from these parks to avoid any more injuries."

A spokeswoman for RCT council said: "The council is aware of the issues in Llantwit Fardre and Church Village parks and is working to support the community council, which oversees running of these parks.

"RCT council is currently delivering a PS1.7m investment in play areas across the county borough, as part of the wider PS200m RCT Invest programme, to upgrade and improve playground facilities and access for the benefit of families in RCT.

"It will adopt a zero-tolerance approach to vandals who think it is acceptable to damage play equipment."

Anyone with information can call the police on 101.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 15, 2016
Words:576
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