A playground which was only opened three years ago has been closed for safety issues – and in a further blow vandals are now targeting it.

The surface around the equipment on Dearham’s Pottery Park has failed, breaking up and turning into 'mush' according to parish council chairman George Brown.

Mr Brown said the parish council is in negotiations with the suppliers to try and resolve the situation but in the meantime they have had to erect plastic fencing to keep people out as it is unsafe.

But for two nights in a row, vandals apparently used a knife to cut through the plastic to gain admittance to the playground.

Now the parish council has had to erect a metal fence, Mr Brown said.

“The older ones are making it unsafe for the younger children when they do this kind of thing," he said.

“The reason we have closed the park is because it is not safe and we do not want children to get hurt.

“We are asking people to make sure their children do not use the equipment until this is fixed.”

He said vandalism was no more rife in Dearham than anywhere else.

“You get a few who get into mischief," he admitted. "They settle down and another group takes over.”

But he said was a concern when it was a safety issue.

The Pottery Park playground was opened in July 2017 and creating it had its own difficulties as the field had to be drained first.

It was partly funded by grants from Story Homes and Persimmon Homes, which have both built large housing estates in the village.

A sub-committee was formed and open days held in which villagers, including children, were able to look at plans for various play equipment and decide what they wanted.

It is not yet known how long the playground will be closed.

Police said there have been other incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour in the village around the park and the school.

Residents in the area have been spoken to and patrols have been carried out to try and identify the young people responsible.

Mr Brown has echoed the police appeal, adding: “We would encourage anyone who can help stop this vandalism to let the police know.”

Anyone with any information should contact the police on 101 or they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.