A pile of debris had been deliberately placed underneath the ramp, including wheelie bins, and set alight. The resulting heat from the fire had warped the metal and weakened the structure integrity which ruled out the facilities being repaired. The shate ramp has now been removed.
Residents have stated that youths in the area, are known for congregating in the Public Park, but mostly they are behaving themselves. However, in this instance, residents feel the youths responsible have stepped over the line of acceptable behaviour.
The Lochgelly Community Council have raised concerns over the vandalism and highlighted that the youths involved are damaging their own facilities and degrading the area to their own detriment, and to the detriment of other residents in the local area. It was recognised that the vandalism is only conducted by a minority group of youths, and should not reflect badly on other youths in the local area.
George Lawrie, Parks Team Leader for the Cowdenbeath area has stated;
Various parts of the skatepark were set on fire with the ramp being the most badly damaged. Whilst vandalism has been an escalating issue in the park, many locals are shocked as to why anyone would commit such an act and several have been in to the Council’s local office already to enquiry about a replacement skatepark.
Unfortunately it will cost over £70,000 to replace the skatepark and we are unable to say at this stage whether that will be achievable. We will work with ward councillors and the local community over the coming months to determine the future for this piece of land.
Meanwhile, Fife Constabulary are to increase foot patrols in the local area, and are appealing for witnesses. Sergeant Thomas Brown recently stated;
When the Fire Service arrived a large number of youngsters were seen running away. Enquiries are at an early stage, however, I am optimistic that we will trace these youngsters.
I would urge anyone who was present and knows who is responsible for starting the fire to contact the police to eliminate them from the enquiry before we start calling on them.
Lochgelly is a strong community and respects its public amenities which are provided and paid for by the local community. I know that we will have the support of the community to detect who is responsible.
I would also urge parents to challenge their children where they are going or what they are up to when they go out.
It is unlikely that the skate ramp will be replaced in the short term due to the associated costs, and will be a loss for those that actively used this facility.
If anyone has any further information is being urged to contact Fife Constabulary on 0845 6005702 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.