Shock as Peacehaven Big Park targeted by vandals

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‘I wish these destructive people could be found.’

That’s the message from project managers at Peacehaven’s new park after vandals smashed the glass in its intricately designed giant gateways which took a local artist hours to create.

Vandals targeted the Centenary Park, originally called the Big Park, last week.

The park only officially opened to the public on April 15 and cost £2.1m to complete.

A spokeswoman for the park’s project team said the attack had left the community ‘reeling’. She said: “The Big Park’s Project was designed and built in consultation with the community and has given the area a real boost.

“The natural playgrounds have been a big hit with the local kids who are really proud of their park with its giant acorn and carved wooden dragon.

“The giant totem gateways, created by local artist Keith Pettit, are one of the best loved features.

“Inspired by early Bronze age rock art they add a unique element to the playgrounds and reflect the site’s archaeological heritage.

“It came as a real blow therefore, when they were recently damaged by vandals who smashed some of glass in the beautifully carved totems.”

Project board Sue Griffiths continued: “I wish these destructive people could be found so that they could sit down with the artist and learn about the meaning and value of what they have destroyed. Maybe they could even try carving for themselves.”

Project Manager Chris Bibb from Lewes District Council added: “It is disappointing that vandals have chosen to target the new park.

“The artworks have taken hundreds of hours to produce and it is disappointing that a person or persons chose to disregard this and cause malicious damage.”

The park was opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester last month.

Pupils from Meridian, Peacehaven Heights and Peacehaven Community Schools lined the route waving their handmade flags as Prince Richard made his way around the park.

Guests gathered in the park’s cafe Molly’s where the Mayor of Peacehaven Robert Robertson invited the Duke to unveil a commemorative plaque and sign the visitors book.

The book is on display at Community House, Meridian Centre, along with the visitors book for residents and visitors to the area to view.

The park was named in honour of sevicemen and women who died in World War One.

The unofficial opening to the public in March attracted 5,000 people.

The park has provided a new cafe, improved sports facilities, a central activity hub, and open space and recreation areas and a skate park.

The spokesman continued: “The Big Parks Project do not want this incident to undermine what is an incredible local achievement and call for witnesses who may have seen the vandals in action.

“This is a community park and by pulling together, Peacehaven can ensure that they continue to have a park that is something the town can be really proud of.”

If you have information about vandalism at the park, contact police on its non emergency telephone number 101.

You can also email Sussex Police at 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk. For more ways to report a crime visit www.sussex.police.uk