Investigation into playgroup fire

POLICE are investigating a fire that destroyed a shed containing toys and equipment owned by a playgroup.

Elliot Furniss

POLICE are investigating a fire that destroyed a shed containing toys and equipment owned by a playgroup.

The fire, thought to have been started deliberately, badly damaged a shed at the Stowmarket Town Council offices in Milton Road South that is used by the URC Playgroup to store its outdoor play equipment.

The playgroup is based at the hall of the nearby United Reformed Church and once a week youngsters visit the site to use the ride-ons and toys on a neighbouring patch of grass.

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But in the early hours of yesterday morning the shed was virtually destroyed in what the playgroup committee believe was a “mindless” arson attack. Andy Butler, chairman of the committee, said a parent had alerted staff to the fire just before the start of yesterday's session.

He said: “It's a massive metal shed used to store all our outdoor play equipment. The shell is there, but inside it's black and everything in it has melted or been destroyed.

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“We've lost the trikes, scooters, balls and all the other outdoor play equipment. A lot of it was virtually brand new because in the last few years we have raised quite a lot of money for it.

“[Charity] Careforce gave us the shed and we were given more money to buy a lot of what was inside it - there's a lot of stuff that other people have donated to us too.

“It's mindless. The whole thing is a disaster - it's just charred remains.” The playgroup has about 40 families registered with it and has up to 24 children at its sessions, held four times a week.

Daniel Harvey, public services manager at the town council, said he just could not understand why someone would want to target the shed, knowing it was full of children's toys.

He said: “Somebody has obviously forced the door open and started a fire in there. Everything inside has been incinerated - there's nothing left. I just can't understand why anybody would do that.”

A police spokesman said an investigation into the cause of the fire was still ongoing.

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