VANDALS have struck just a week after a council spent thousands of pounds to introduce safety measures so it could reopen its parks to children.

Residents reported a hand sanitiser station at Launton Meadows play area, off Manston Road, Bicester, had been pulled from its post and set on fire destroying the kit.

Bicester Town Council leader, Richard Mould, described the vandalism as 'wanton destruction'.

It is believed the incident happened some time over the weekend and police have been informed.

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Last weekend Bicester Town Council reopened some of its play parks and outdoor gyms as part of the nationwide easing of lock-down restrictions.

In preparation staff and councillors spent hours checking and cleaning play equipment and installing new signs and hand sanitiser stations at parks.

Installing the stations and refilling has cost more than £2,000 so far in unplanned expenditure.

Mr Mould said: “I am absolutely appalled by what has happened at Launton Meadows play area.

“We are living in very difficult times and by reopening play parks we had hoped to give the town’s children a chance to have some fun and a breath of fresh air.

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"We worked hard to make the play areas as safe as possible with new signs and the installation of expensive hand sanitiser stations.

“Now the enjoyment of those children has been ruined by the mindless few who have carried out such wanton destruction.

“The town council cannot afford to replace vandalised hand sanitiser stations and the actions of these vandals may result in parks being closed again.”

Play areas were closed as part of the full lock-down announced by the government in March due to coronavirus.

Bicester Town Council look after more than 60 play areas and outdoor gyms and staff are working to reopen more. Each play space must be inspected, cleaned and new signs and hand sanitising stations installed before they can reopen.

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Anyone with information should contact the Police on 101 quoting reference 43200212417, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or Bicester Town Council on 01869 252915.