OAPs scared as vandals wreck Blackpool community hub

The centre has had to be closed
The centre has had to be closed
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Vandals have smashed windows 16 times at a Blackpool community centre, forcing it to close.

The boarding up of the centre meant lonely pensioners living nearby were left without their regular breakfast meetings and quiz nights.

Residents said the repeated attacks left the vulnerable people living close to the Horsebridge Community Centre, on the Grange Park estate, feeling isolated and frightened to report the young thugs to the police.

Grange Park resident Terry Bennett said: “The problem at the Horsebridge Community Centre is that we have a rather wild unruly element who seem to think it is funny to put the windows through every time that new ones are put in.

“We have been told some of these children are under10 – below the age of criminal responsibility – and the police are having trouble, because the residents who have seen them are vulnerable, disabled, or pensioners, and are frightened to act as witnesses.

“It is costly to replace them and the centre has had to be closed.

“For some of the pensioners, the breakfast club is the only time they get to meet other people, so if the centre was forced to close for good it would be awful.

“We need protection for the windows, and CCTV to catch the vandals.

“If they are under-10s, then the parents should be presented with a bill for repairs, and the clean-up of the glass. This cannot go on.”

Sheila Wrench, secretary of the Open Door project, which helps the pensioners in the area, said up to 30 people relied on the centre for the weekly breakfast club and quiz evenings for social contact.

She said: “This is very disappointing. The breakfasts every Monday are very important for the residents who would otherwise just be on their own all week. They look forward to it.

“It would be terrible if the centre was forced to close and they missed out.”

A spokesman for Blackpool Council said: “The community centres Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) operate, like the one at Horsebridge, offer a valuable space for residents to come together for all sorts of events.

“Working in partnership with the police, we will get the centre up and running again as soon as possible, and will take measures to prevent further vandalism.

“I would urge anyone who has any information about who was responsible to let BCH or the police know, so we can seek to hold the individuals to account for their poor behaviour.”

Lancashire Police confirmed it was looking into the spate of vandalism.

It said it had several incidents reported in April alone, the latest being on April 23 when a window at the rear was smashed.

On April 19, they were told youngsters had climbed on the roof to damage windows and, between April 8 and 11, more window damage was reported.

A spokesman said: “We would ask anyone with any information about these incidents to come forward.”

Any useful information can be reported by calling police on 101.