Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 13:45 UK

Dogs blamed for play area damage

A playground in Hertfordshire is suspected of being used to train fighting dogs, a council has said.

Teeth marks have been found on damaged swings in one play area in Royston.

The council believes bull terriers are made to grip equipment and are swung round to increase biting strength. Now they may have to close the play areas.

Police said they were not aware of a fighting dog problem in Royston but were increasing patrols after reports of vandalism and graffiti.

North Hertfordshire District Council has threatened to stop funding repairs after spending £60,000 mending vandalised equipment.

We need the community in Royston to stand up for its children and make sure that the vandals are stopped

John Smith
North Hertfordshire District Council

The bill for damage at Newmarket Road, Serby Avenue and Priory Gardens in Royston took a third of the council's total budget for repairing play equipment, a council statement said.

The latest vandalism happened at a play area in Newmarket Road, where swing seats were damaged by dogs.

The council said training for bull terrier fighting was suspected of being the cause of the damage.

Council leader John Smith said the council could not keep funding a "seemingly endless black hole".

He called on members of the public to report any suspicious activity.

He added: "The last thing we want to do is stop small children playing.

"They have done nothing wrong and would be punished for the selfish, wilful actions of people old enough to know better.

"We need the community in Royston to stand up for its children and make sure that the vandals are stopped.

"Anyone seeing anything suspicious should contact the police straight away."



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