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Anger over 'mindless attack' of Ipswich playbus Maggie which entertains hundreds of children every week

PUBLISHED: 06:58 28 June 2016 | UPDATED: 06:58 28 June 2016

The Maggie Playbus.

The Maggie Playbus.

Archant

Ipswich's popular playbus Maggie has been forced off the road by vandals - but she could have a more secure future, for the rest of the summer at least.

The hole in the the smashed rear window of the Ipswich Playbus.The hole in the the smashed rear window of the Ipswich Playbus.

Volunteers from the Ipswich Community Playbus were assessing the damage yesterday after the upper back window of the bus was smashed over the weekend.

The damage has prompted organisers to step up their search for a new, secure home for the double-decker bus that entertains hundreds of young children across the town every week.

The East of England Co-op has stepped in to offer a new home to Maggie in part of its warehouse at Boss Hall for at least the next six weeks.

The deal was brokered by Ipswich Council, which had recently taken back the covered space Maggie had occupied at the Constantine Road bus depot.

Mandy Potter surveys the hole in the the smashed rear window of the Ipswich Playbus.Mandy Potter surveys the hole in the the smashed rear window of the Ipswich Playbus.

A spokesman for the borough said: “We are saddened by this mindless attack on a much loved community icon and we hope anyone with information about it will contact the Police.

“We are a funder of the Playbus and have been working with the organisers to find a new home and are delighted that after we got in touch with the Co-op it has kindly offered to help in the short-term.

“Anyone who has premises large enough to store Maggie on a longer term basis should get in touch with the Trustees.”

The playbus is a not-for-profit charity run by a board of voluntary trustees for families with children under five years old in Ipswich.

It was relaunched in October 2003 and runs eight free play sessions during the week.

Each term, activities are based on themes, including colours, numbers, seasons, celebrations. Facilities include a messy play area where children can play with sand and paint, there is a baby area, puzzles, a built-in slide, cars, trains, themed home corner and soft play.

Due to the strength of the glass it is possible a rock may have been launched at it with a catapult, such was the force of the blow.

Liz Harsant, chair of the playbus trustees, said: “We don’t know how long it will take to get repaired because it is not possible just to get a replacement window for an old bus like ours.

“We need to get things done fairly soon because the summer is the busiest time of the year – and children love visiting the playbus.”

Until recently the bus had been under cover at Constantine Road, but that space is now needed to store borough property – the bus depot is owned by the council.

Mrs Harsant added: “To be fair, the borough has been helping us look for new premises for the bus, but we haven’t managed to find anything yet.

“It is not easy to find space to store a double-decker bus, an ordinary garage or shed is not much good!”

However, volunteers are determined to make sure Maggie is back on the road as soon as possible – and certainly well before the school summer holidays start at the end of July.

The bus stops at the following locations in term time:

MONDAY

Ravenswood

TUESDAY

Griffin Wharf - residents car park by the Audi Garage Bath Street.

Bramford Road, behind the Conservative Club

WEDNESDAY

Congreve Road

Kelly Road

THURSDAY

Downside Close

FRIDAY

Moffat Avenue, Rushmere

Ulster Avenue, Whitehouse

It is also out on the road in school holidays when it is often at its busiest.

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