ARSONISTS badly damaged new football changing rooms opened as part of an £820,000 park development.

A wheelie bin was set on fire and pushed next to the changing rooms on Hulton Lane Playing Fields at 4am this morning, July 11.

The facilities were only recently installed along with new pitches, a playing area and multi-use playing field for a variety of sports ready for the start of the football season.

It is now feared teams will not be able to play at the site until the damage is repaired.

Fire service watch manger Ian Read said the damage to the outside of the building had been significant.

He said: "It's a right mess. We had to cut our way in, which is a real shame.

"It's just awful, a lot of money has been spent. It's a disgrace. Some youth has torched this and ruined it for young people who play football. They have damaged it now. It's reckless damage."

Queen Anne Football Club use the facility for their home games in the Bolton at Home Sunday League, which is due to start on August 20.

Club manager Dean Walmsley said: “We haven’t been able to use the pitch for a while because they’ve been giving it time to grow and then there have been a lot of travellers on the pitch who have left their mess as well. Now the changing rooms have been damaged so we still can’t use it.

“The season starts next Sunday so we now have a huge headache in trying to find somewhere else to play in a short time.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “We arranged for the building to be secured in the first instance and are currently assessing the extent of the damage. Acts of vandalism like this affect the whole community and we hope to get the changing rooms back into use as soon as possible.”

Mr Read called on people to look after their own communities.

He said: "It's up to people in their own areas, the police can't do everything. People need to be looking after their own neighbourhood.

"They need to keep an eye out for things being damaged and report it and have an active interest in their own area.

"It brings communities together when you look after your area.

"It was wanton destruction."

Sharon Verden, aged 46, who lives in nearby Edge Hill Road, said: "About 4.30am there were flashing blue lights but I didn't know anything about it until I went out with my dogs. There were some council workers there. I thought it might have an electrical issue.

"We've noticed kids have been making holes in the walls.

"Since they redid the park, I've seen drug use over there and needles.

"We've seen young kids on the roof. They are vandalising anything they can.

"It's getting noisy around here but we hope it will die down when the novelty wears off."