A WEYMOUTH resident has spoken out after he stopped a children’s play park from being set on fire by teenage vandals.

Nathan Hawker, 35, and his three-year-old son live near Lodmoor Country Park and regularly visit the play area so his son can play on the wooden pirate ship, ride his bike and feed the ducks.

But when they went to visit the play area on Monday evening Mr Hawker said they were unable to use it because a group of youths were sitting on the ship smoking and swearing.

When he returned Mr Hawker said the area was full of rubbish and empty pizza boxes and the ship was covered in ashes from things the group had allegedly been burning.

He also said smoke was coming from bushes near the play park because hot ashes had been thrown into the undergrowth.

“It was so dangerous because there are loads of dry leaves under there. I thought it was going to start a fire, but I managed to stomp all over it and put it out. When we went on the wooden ship I went to see what they’d been messing about with and it looked like they’d been burning school reports.”

“The damage is still there, you get black hands and clothes if you take your kids up there. It really annoys me because it’s so unnecessary and stupid, there must be something better for them to do in Weymouth.”

Mr Hawker reported the incident to the police but is not hopeful the culprits will be found.

He said: “At the end of the day it’s criminal damage and arson. It would be nice if the police did find them, but unless they come down hanging around again it’s unlikely. They should be made to repair it and put some new grass down, and repaint the wood they damaged. I know not all teenagers are like it, but you get small groups that give others a bad name.”

Cllr Ian Bruce, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s spokesman for community facilities said: "I am very grateful to Mr Hawker for swiftly reporting this as we rely on the community to help us deal with the few idiots who try to spoil things for the majority.

“I just hope the parents and friends of the fire bugs will turn them in to the police so they can explain themselves, realise just how dangerous playing with fire can be and make reparations."

Any witnesses to the incident should call Dorset Police on 101.