Vandals are repeatedly smashing locks which have been put in place to keep youngsters out of a children’s playground during the coronavirus lockdown.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has had to replace the locks to the play area off Brakespeare Street, Goldenhill, on three occasions in the past fortnight.
It comes as most council-owned playgrounds have been closed across the city in response to the COVID-19 social distancing rules.
A notice attached to the play area states: “In the interests of public health during the coronavirus outbreak, please do not use the play equipment until further notice. We cannot guarantee that this equipment is clean and therefore safe.
“We apologise for any inconvenience that this necessary action may cause.”
Council bosses have highlighted the issue during one of the warmest Easter holidays in recent years.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “As a mum I know how difficult it is to keep children entertained and if they can see a playground they will want to play on it.
“The playgrounds are closed at the moment because it’s really difficult, as a council, to keep them clean and that is why the play areas we can close have closed.
“I can understand people wanting to use the play areas but people should think about why they are closed and there are signs up explaining why they are closed.
StokeonTrentLive has created a dedicated group on Facebook for COVID 19 (coronavirus) updates. Join for sensible, accurate and informed updates – click here.
“It’s really irresponsible to remove a sign or break the locks, it not only sets a bad example for your kids but also other people in the area who may use it and not realise it was closed. The message is really clear that people are not to congregate.”
Sandyford and Goldenhill Residents’ Association has condemned the vandals.
Association chairman Tom Simpson said: “This is a shocking thing to do. The council has put up the signs and locks to protect the people who live in the area and to break the locks is completely irresponsible. It’s disgusting – they should be ashamed of themselves.
“If someone was to catch coronavirus from the play area, we as a residents’ association would be very disappointed.
“Deaths are happening in Stoke-on-Trent and this is stupid behaviour. It’s ridiculous for anybody to cut the chains off the gates and take the signs down.
“I have seen a PCSO going around, but somebody would need to be there 24/7 to prevent this happening.”
Tom is urging people to call the police or the residents’ association if they catch the vandals in the act.
He added: “Somebody knows who is doing it and if it has been done three times then it needs to be reported.”
To report any criminal damage call the police on 101 or the council on 01782 234567.