“MINDLESS vandals” caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to a musical sculpture only recently unveiled as part of a £2m town centre revamp.

Just weeks after the long-awaited re-launch of the town centre in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, the area has become a target for anti-social behaviour.

New seating has been chipped and splintered by youngsters using it to perform skateboarding and bmx tricks.

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And last weekend, the shopping centre’s management team was horrified to discover a granite sculpture, worth £11,000, had been damaged beyond repair.

The sculpture comprises tall columns and a small plastic hammer, which is attached by a wire and can be used to strike the granite and create musical notes.

One of a pair, it was especially popular with children.

However, overnight on Friday, January 3, vandals wrapped the wire around the columns and snapped several of them off.

This has lead to confused shoppers using the sculpture as a rubbish bin.

Town centre manager Bryan Haldane said: “I am very disappointed this has happened so close to the work being finished. We wanted to have sculptures like this to entertain the children when they come shopping with their parents.

“It is very upsetting.”

In November, thousands attended a festival to celebrate the competition of the second phase of a multi-million pound scheme to revitalise the shopping centre, which is owned by Freshwater, a private property management company.

The mood in the town was buoyant as residents took stock of the transformation and enjoyed a concert by X Factor pop princess Amelia Lily.

PC Keith Todd said police were determined to catch those responsible for the damage.

“It is such a shame for the community who have waited so long for a refurbished modern shopping centre like this,” he said.

“For individuals, who are nothing more than mindless vandals, to try and spoil this for everyone else is not on.”

CCTV is now being reviewed and Newton Aycliffe Neighbourhood Police Team is making use of a vacant shop to monitor the town centre at night.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.