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Fire at Newmillerdam June 2016

VOLUNTEERS 'INCENSED' AFTER VANDALS DESTROY WOODLAND WALK. Vandals deliberately laid waste to the viewing platform and about 30 metres of boardwalk at Newmillerdam’s Lawns Dike Trail in a fire that also severely damaged surrounding trees.

The Civic Award winning trail was opened by Wakefield MP Mary Creagh in the summer of 2013 and took volunteers 18 months to complete at a cost of around £50,000. The Chairman of the Friends of Newmillerdam Country Park, Jeff Stimpson, from Sandal, said that restoration of the damaged section would take many months to complete and could cost around £5,000. The fire service attended the incident and reported that some form of accelerant had been used to start the fire.

The viewing platform was constructed of recycled hard plastic and was reduced to a pile of ash by the intensity of the blaze. Jeff said: "Acts of mindless vandalism in the country park have been increasing in both intensity and frequency over the last few years. Today the total destruction of the viewing platform at the Lawns Dike Trail is particularly disappointing as it hits specifically people with a disability, who relish the quiet and much-needed intimacy with the natural environment that this feature provides.

"The volunteers, who spent many months creating the trail, are incensed, yet determined to rectify the situation. The precise way this will be achieved will depend on many factors but will be determined by the group over the next few days. The support shown by local groups and the general public is much appreciated.”

Comments have piled up on the Friends’ Facebook page where there is outright condemnation of the culprits, with a flurry of fundraising suggestions and offers to help with the work of restoring the walk.

If anyone would like to make a donation towards the work in the Park they can do so by visiting the Boathouse Café on Sundays or sending a cheque to the Secretary, The Hammel, Wood Lane, Chaplethorpe, Wakefield WF4 3JL. Cheques should be made payable to Friends of Newmillerdam Country Park. Contact Jeff Stimpson on 07855 946177 for further information. Report courtesy of Author, Richard Taylor, SCA.

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