Users urged not to try to gain access to damaged Wick play park
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Users of a play park in Caithness are being urged not to try to gain access to the site until repairs can be carried out following a recent outbreak of vandalism.
Highland Council says the damage to Wick's Grizzly Park will be rectified once it has the necessary resources – and in the meantime is asking people to keep away.
The popular facility at Wellington Avenue includes a skateboard area, swings, a climbing frame and other play equipment.
The park was initially closed to the public on Thursday morning after parts of it had been deliberately damaged, leading to concerns over safety. But efforts to make it a no-go area failed to have the desired effect.
Council staff blocked off the main entrance with a section of temporary Heras fencing, and a "park closed" sign was put up.
By early on Friday, however, it had been opened up again. The section of fencing that had been used to block off the main access had been moved to one side, with the "park closed" sign seemingly taken off.
Council workers blocked off the entrance again by mid-morning that day following an inspection. After being shown photos taken on Friday morning, a council spokesperson said: "It looks like the vandals have ripped off the Heras fencing panel which is now only fit for a skip.
"Previously they had used the panel feet as hammers and smashed the wooden fencing, which left sharp timber shards sticking up and made the park too dangerous to let children use it."
By the start of this week it emerged that there had been further damage. A section of fencing designed to prevent access to the park from the rear, close to the cliffs above Wick Bay, had been pulled out of the way.
Fencing that may have come from the play park was photographed about halfway down the cliffs.
The council spokesperson said on Monday: "We can confirm that fencing has now been put back in place blocking the entrances to the park."
She was unable to put a timescale on the programme of repairs within the play park, saying: "The work to repair the damage will be carried out once we have secured the resources to do it.
"In the meantime, for safety reasons, we ask that no-one tries to gain entry as the site is not safe due to the damaged equipment. We have reported the vandalism to the police and urge the public to report any further vandalism to them also."
Councillor Willie Mackay, who represents Wick and East Caithness, said: "Whoever the culprits were, if Highland Council officers decided the play park equipment was dangerous and not fit for children to play on then that is final until it can be repaired or replaced.
"I want a safe play park for our kids, one which they can enjoy and is completely secure."