A sports club chairman has branded the burning of a seat in their grounds by hooded youths as a ‘great shame’.
Last Wednesday at around 2pm, an acrylic seat at East Preston Sports and Social Club in Lashmar Road, East Preston, was set alight and burned for 40 minutes, melting onto the floor of the Rob Boddy Stand.
The incident was recorded by CCTV cameras, which themselves had been smashed in the last few weeks as part of a long-term vandalism spree. The fire service confirmed the fire is being treated as arson.
The club’s chairman Keith Glenister said: “It is a great shame. This is a community club and it is being wrecked by the odd idiot.”
The CCTV footage has been sent to the police and has already generated leads.
Mr Glenister said: “There are posters up warning people we have CCTV cameras, and this is why I can’t understand why these fools keep damaging things.”
Each chair is reportedly worth £150, but social club manager Michelle Pritchard believed the whole row would have to be replaced.
She said it ‘could have been a completely different story’ had the fire gotten out of control.
She had this to say to the vandals: “Do you have nothing better to do with your lives than sitting around ruining things?
“Do your parents know what you are up to? Because I think they would be absolutely mortified.”
During the last 12 months, asthma pumps were stolen, seats were torn up, the wall of the away dug out was kicked in, benches were broken and sprinklers were damaged.
It has put a dampener on East Preston Football Club’s promotion to the first division of the Sussex football league.
Mr Glenister said: “We don’t make a great deal of profit so this is a considerable damage to us. We can’t keep baring the costs.”
Sussex Police has asked anyone with information to report it online at sussex.police.uk/appealresponse quoting serial 1262 of 04/09.
Mr Glenister said he was in discussion with Arun District Council, which owns the land the club is built on, about locking the site to deter vandals.
A spokesperson from Arun District Council issued a statement which said: “We have had discussions with the club in the past about locking the access to the sports club.
“However the ground is designated as being public open space and it is a lease condition that access to the ground must remain – unless a football match is being played, in which case the access can be controlled.
“As a council, we take incidents of vandalism very seriously and would urge anyone who witnesses vandalism to report it to the police on the non-emergency 101 number.
“We monitor all reports of vandalism in the district and our Community Safety Team will continue to work alongside Sussex Police and other agencies to tackle this issue.”