Police are working to address a string of anti-social behaviour and ‘heartbreaking’ vandalism incidents at Bideford Football Club and the town’s new skate park

Some of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt SmartSome of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt Smart

The Sports Ground in Kingsley Road has been blighted by vandalism and littering in recent weeks.

Around 30 seats in the stand along the road have been ripped out or broken, and the club said its volunteers are collecting a black sack full of rubbish including food and drink, beer bottles and 'items used for substance abuse'.

It said 30-40 individuals have been loitering in the stands at the Sports Ground and the adjacent skate park and making noise until as late as 4am.

Ian Knight, Bideford AFC vice-chairman and spokesman for the club's board of directors, said: "We expressed our concerns about the possibility of damage to the stadium when the plans were first publicised.

Some of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt SmartSome of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt Smart

"We were reassured by Torridge District Council (TDC) that this would not be a problem, but as it has transpired, that reassurance has failed to materialise.

"This damage is heart breaking for our hard working supporters who fund raised for the seating in the first place, and now worry that the Southern League will come down hard on us if the number of seats in our stadium falls below the number specified in League rules.

"This leaves the question of where the funds will come from to replace them."

The club said it is delighted money has been spent on the town's young people in providing the skate park, and added it had no issues with TDC, which says it is working hard with police and the club to address the situation.

Some of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt SmartSome of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt Smart

TDC's property and procurement manager, Adrian Redwood, said measures such as CCTV are already in the pipeline.

"It is very frustrating that a small minority of people are participating in anti-social behaviour primarily around the stands and making life miserable for other users and local residents," said Mr Redwood.

"We are trying to engage with the groups causing these issues in an attempt to get them to modify their behaviour as well.

"Hopefully a combination of all these factors will enable us to restore a level of more acceptable use for the site so that the facility can once again be fully enjoyed by the whole community."

Some of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt SmartSome of the vandalism and litter at Bideford Sports Ground. Picture: Matt Smart

Bideford police said it had increased patrols in the area over the last couple of weeks, and had spoken to 'numerous' young people, and will continue to monitor the situation.