BASINGSTOKE council has pledged to increase patrols at a play area in Oakridge following a fire thought to have been deliberately started by vandals.

Firefighters were called to the scene of the Oakridge Road play area just after 8pm on Sunday (April 18) to reports that a swing set and surfacing were alight.

The small fire was extinguished and police informed.

Residents in the area reported hearing a “bang”, followed by a group of four or five young people running from the scene.

On Monday morning, the park was open as normal, but signs of the fire remained. Police are now appealing for anyone with information about the incident to come forwards.

Speaking yesterday (April 19), Carolyn Wooldridge, Labour ward councillor for Norden, said: “I'm very sorry to hear about the fire on Oakridge playing field. Its such a shame as this open space is well used by local families and so important for wellbeing especially at the moment as there are still restrictions on recreational activities due to the pandemic.

“It’s vital that we get the play equipment back in use ASAP and I've already been liaising with the relevant officers at the Council this morning to make sure this happens. I've been advised that they'll wash down the site tomorrow, assess for any damage and then action any repairs as necessary.

This morning, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s head of community and health infrastructure, David Covill, added: “The council is aware of an incident at Oakridge Road play area over the weekend, which resulted in some damage to the play equipment surface.

“A play area inspector has attended the site today to ensure that the equipment is safe and the council’s community safety patrol officers will increase patrols in the area to deter any future antisocial behaviour or vandalism.”