RESIDENTS and councillors have been left “distraught” after youths set fire to a Withymoor play area – destroying the swings and safety surface.

The play equipment on Withymoor Park by Sainsbury’s Amblecote was left blackened and ruined after the incident on Wednesday evening (October 25) which saw police and the fire service called out.

Dudley’s gutsy deputy mayor, who lives nearby, saw the park ablaze and got in his car and drove after the gang of teenagers, who are believed to have started the fire with aerosols and pallets.

He said he drove across the park and confronted the gang before emergency services arrived, but they swiftly fled.

Cllr Lee, aged 72, praised the police and fire service for their swift response – saying: “The police and fire brigade were brilliant – they were there very quick, within a couple of minutes.”

He said the youths were all dressed in black, wearing hoodies, and were estimated to be around 14 or 15-years-old.

The Conservative councillor said he drove around the area to see if he could spot them but to no avail.Stourbridge News: Cllr Pete Lee - deputy mayor of DudleyCllr Pete Lee - deputy mayor of Dudley (Image: Amblecote councillors)

He said: “It’s just a shame – there was a right old fire going and it’s left the park a right mess – people can’t use it.

“We're just distraught for the kids.

“We’ve worked hard to get our parks in the ward up to scratch and now this happens. They’ve really damaged the park.”

He said going forwards he and his fellow ward councillors Paul Bradley and Kamran Razzaq would look at whether they can get the parks in Amblecote lit up in the evenings as he said “they’re pitch black” – apart from Penfields Park.

But he said “the council is strapped for cash” so he fears how long it might take to repair the damage and source funding for lighting, although he added: “We’ll have to see if we can get it all sorted out as quick as we can.”

Fellow Amblecote councillor Kamran Razzaq said he would be speaking to the relevant council departments to see about replacing the damaged equipment and he added: “It’s a busy park and is enjoyed by many kids.

“We want to make sure that kids can continue to enjoy the play area. “It’s just disappointing and upsetting to see that this has happened.”

A local resident told how she found the equipment damaged when she went to take her young grandson to play on the baby swing and she said “he was so upset” at not being able to go on it.