EQUIPMENT at a park in Rishton has been severely damaged after being targeted by arsonists.

Damage totalling tens of thousands of pounds has been caused at the Holt Street recreational ground, at the rear of Talbot Street, over the past month.

Several fires have left bins, seating areas and tarmac destroyed or damaged, and plans to install new play equipment in jeopardy.

Rishton councillor Ken Moss, who will become portfolio holder for education, leisure and arts for Hyndburn Council later today, said: “It’s hard for us to justify spending tens of thousands on new equipment if it will just be damaged.

“We are trying to get funding for new equipment, but it makes it awkward if nobody will come forward and tell us who is doing it.”

Coun Moss said he believes more than one person is responsible for the damage, although their ages are not known.

He said: “Holt Street has always been a target for vandalism but in the past month we have had a couple of serious fires that have damaged things beyond repair. We are talking tens of thousands of pounds. I will be speaking to the police about it.”

Holt Street Recreation Ground is one of the largest in Rishton and serves the lower end of the town.

Coun Moss has spoken previously about the park, which was shortlisted as land that could be sold off by the council last year.

At the time, Coun Moss said the move was ‘unlikely’, and that a £300,000 plan to install facilities on the ground in 2006 was ‘an election promise from the former leader of the council’ that never happened.

Play equipment, a games area, a path for cyclists and improved parking were proposed, but the only one installed was a multiple user games area — an enclosed concrete pitch painted with lines for different sports — paid for by a youth group.

No-one from the fire service was available for comment.