‘We are deeply saddened’ - Residents react after decking area at Chesterfield beauty spot destroyed by vandals
Residents living close to a Chesterfield beauty spot have expressed their sadness after a decking area at the site was torched by vandals over the weekend.
Police are currently investigating the case of ‘mindless’ vandalism at the Avenue Nature Reserve and Washlands in Wingerworth on Saturday, June 5.
The decking area, which overlooks one of the ponds, was completely destroyed in the incident and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust volunteers have since set up an online fundraising appeal which has brought in nearly £4,000 to replace it.
The nature reserve, on Mill Lane, attracts a wide range of birds including tufted duck, wigeon, snipe and little grebe as well as skylarks, yellowhammer and nesting warblers.
It is also home to water voles, great crested newts and dragonflies, and is a popular spot among families, dog owners, and cyclists due to its walking trails.
Nick Rhodes was born and raised in Wingerworth and, despite moving to Hasland, is still a frequent visitor to the Avenue Washlands.
He said: “I’ve been a regular walker and a keen photographer and was one of the very first people to actually be allowed on it when they opened the gates.
"It was a bit of a shock the other night because nobody knew what was going on. I’d like to think the wildlife will survive and obviously it is upsetting for some people.
"It’s a shame but personally I’m not going to go down the path of blaming whoever. But, I am pleased that people have stepped in to try and fund it by contributions.”
Siobhan Sharp said: “I hope who ever did this comes forward or gets caught, we are so fortunate enough to have this beautiful area on our doorsteps. I’m sure I can speak for many local residents and residents of the Avenue estate we are deeply saddened by what’s happened.”
Sara Peters said: “This is truly awful. I hope they get the ones who did this and pay for their actions. The water is now polluted for the wildlife. Heartbreaking.”
Roger Flint added: “Disgraceful behaviour - I hope that those responsible are caught and dealt with soon.”
Video circulating on social media appears to show youngsters allegedly starting a fire.
Councillor Ross Shipman, leader of the Liberal Democrats on North East Derbyshire District Council, said: “I am calling on local councils to find funding to put on diversionary activities for young people in the parishes of Tupton, Wingerworth, Clay Cross and Grassmoor.
“I’ve written to Tupton Parish Council, Wingerworth Parish Council, Clay Cross Parish Council, Grassmoor Parish Council, North East Derbyshire District Council and the Clay Cross North county councillor.
“Please lobby your local councillors in these areas to support this proactive work (with funding), where we can try and engage with young people to prevent similar issues continuing to happen.
“If there is something you or your business can provide or donate to help, please email [email protected]
“Tupton Parish Council is taking steps to reopen the youth centre off Nethermoor Road, Tupton, so that regular, engaging activities can take place for local residents,” he added.
A spokesperson for Wingerworth and Rural Police Safer Neighbourhood Team described the incident as ‘mindless’ vandalism and added: “It appears that the composite decking by the pond has been set on fire, not only endangering the wildlife but ruining the area for the people who walk their dogs and others who want to sit and enjoy the scenery.
“We urge you to report those responsible so that we can engage with them and their family.”
On Monday night, the team thanked people for their ‘input’ following the incident and added: “The crime occurrence has now been passed to a police constable for investigation.”
Several people had contacted the force with information following the incident and that investigations are continuing.
Call 101 quoting crime occurrence 21*312870.