Vandals attack leisure centre

A LEISURE centre manager has been forced to close some of its facilities after youths tore down fencing, demolished a wall and rode bicycles across pitches.

A LEISURE centre manager has been forced to close some of its facilities after youths tore down fencing, demolished a wall and rode bicycles across pitches.

The artificial turf pitches at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket will be closed until the end of the week while repairs are carried out following the vandalism.

David Upward, assistant manager at the leisure centre, said he believed the town's new closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) had driven youths to its premises, where they have been causing trouble.

He added it was the third serious vandalism attack in just three months, with the damage running to thousands of pounds.

In the first incident a few months ago vandals broke in through a window and targeted a fruit machine. Two weeks ago they smashed skylights, leaving a sports centre corridor flooded.

In the latest vandalism attack, which happened between 6pm on Sunday and 7am yesterday, youths tore down vandalism-proof fencing, demolished a wall and rode bicycles all over the pitches.

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Mr Upward said: "I'm devastated, we have just refurbished the pitches and this achieves nothing. This is very disheartening.

"It's completely wanton, absolutely senseless. We have had to cancel this week's activities on the all-weather turf, there is fencing sticking up everywhere, it is just too dangerous to play on.

"I suspect it was youths and the same ones. When the town gained CCTV, the youths moved up to the leisure centre. We have petty vandalism weekly, but these major three incidents have cost us thousands."

A Suffolk police spokesman said the vandals had also uprooted nets and posts from a tennis court and stolen football netting.

He added: "The damage runs in to thousands of pounds. Police will be working with staff at the centre to discuss security arrangements.''

Anyone with information should contact Stowmarket police on 01284 774100.

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