VANDALS are thought to have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage at an East Lancashire horticultural initiative.

Campaigners and police have condemned louts who ripped up polytunnels at Hodge House Community Garden Project in Nelson.

And an appeal has been launched by neighbourhood officers in a bid to unmask the troublemakers, who are thought to have struck over a four-day period.

Cllr Eileen Ansar, a Nelson borough councillor, said: "Why would people like this try to damage something which is so worthwhile to the local community?

"It is beyond belief that when you have a charitable project, which is trying to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles, that someone would think of targetting them in this way.

"If anyone saw anything untoward here, I would urge them to contact Nelson police straight away."

Blackburn-based environmental organisation Newground oversees the growing project, which looks to increase the numbers of community gardeners growing their own produce.

Police say the vandals are understood to have struck between June 14 and 17, although the incident was reported some time later.

A Nelson Police spokesman said: "We found the polytunnel and garden in a state of disrepair, due to a deliberate act of vandalism, .

"A fire had been started inside the polytunnel, destroying the tunnel and its contents, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. A lot of hard work has been put into this gardening project, which the community can use and come along to grow their own fruit and vegetables."

Witnesses are being asked to e-mail or quoting log number 0330 of June 27, if they can assist.

The site was also hit by vandals in May 2016.