MINDLESS thugs are forcing a Widnes school to spend thousands of pounds it can ill afford to boost security following vandalism attacks.
The latest facility at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Catholic Primary to be targeted was a six month old bike shed which had a bicycle wheel hurled through its roof - but the £500 cost of replacing a broken perspex sheet is just the latest incident.
Two weekends ago burglars raided sheds of houses backing on to the Clinton View school grounds. But staff were shocked on the Monday morning when youngsters found stolen items which had been apparently dumped over the fence.
The items discovered included:
Lawn mower and hedge cutters.
Caretaker Ray Evans said most Mondays he finds home-made pipes laying in the playground which are used to smoke drugs.
And the school-goers turned up on Monday morning to find that up to 12 trees and saplings had been ripped down.
Mr Evans suspects the culprits may be teenagers or even adults as it would have been difficult to break them.
The attacks follow months of refurbishment which included the installation of double glazing and extensive repainting throughout.
But two of the double glazed units costing £200 each have already been smashed and Mr Evans said he is constantly having to paint over graffiti. He said the same names appear time and again, suggesting the same gang is responsible.
The school now intends to install higher gates and 2.4m palisade fencing but Mr Evans believed the cost could be as much as £10,000. He said the thugs have already ripped out five steel rails from the existing fencing and believes that a new fence would be a deterrent rather than a final solution.
He said: 'You try to do things for the children and make everything nice and then this happens.
'They are mindless, thoughtless thugs the stuff they hid deliberately in the bushes could be very dangerous to the children
'We are in the process of trying to get higher gates and fencing but such security measures are horrendously expensive.
'Every Monday morning without fail there are broken beer, wine and spirits bottles smashed in the playground where they know the children play.
'I think those responsible are older than kids and I suspect that it is the same gang doing everything.'