'DISGUSTING' thieves have stolen almost every paving slab from a sports centre footpath.

The pathway leading to Hyndburn Leisure Centre in Church was targeted by vandals over the festive period and around 40 paving stones were stolen.

The damage was spotted by residents walking past the centre in Henry Street and reported to the police.

Leisure centre bosses said repairs will be put in place to make sure the path is safe.

Craig Ramell, a local resident who uses the centre, said it was disturbing to see the extent of damage which had been done.

The 33-year-old said: "It was shocking to see, it is a real mess.

"It is disgusting people would do something like that.

"I take my two kids there for swimming lessons and my wife goes there as well.

"People are not going to be able to walk across the path.

"It's definitely been planned to do a job like that.

"It's such a big area, I'm surprised nobody had heard or seen anything.

"It's been happening in other places too.

"Maybe the neighbourhood watches could help police more to try and catch the culprits."

Hyndburn was subject to a spate of paving stone thefts in 2017 with areas in Accrington, Huncoat and Oswaldtwistle subject to the crime.

Areas hit included Avenue Parade, Lime Road, Spencer Street, Sandy Lane, Lock Street and Huncoat Peace Garden.

Concerns have been raised by leisure centre bosses that well used public facilities are now being targeted.

Steve Tanti, chief executive of Hyndburn Leisure Trust said: "It's theft.

"It's disturbing that damage like this has been done to a public amenity.

"We'll be making sure it's cordoned off and we'll be putting repairs in place to make sure it is safe."

Cllr Jean Battle, who represents the area on Hyndburn Council, said: "It's disgusting.

"I don't know who would do something like this.

"There worth quite a bit of money, people will pinch anything.

"I don't know how you stop it."

Police officers are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward and contact them.

A police spokesman said: "The theft is under investigation.

"Unknown offenders approached the leisure centre and have taken a large number of paving slabs.

"About 40 paving slabs were taken in total."

Anyone with any information should contact the police on 101.