A TEAM of dedicated volunteers have been left angry after all of their hard work went up in flames.

Dozens of people spent several hours clearing rubbish and picking up broken glass in the Denes area on Saturday but before it could be picked up the pile was set alight.

More than 30 bags were collected by members of the Friends of the Denes, working alongside community-spirited volunteers from other groups and organisations, in a bid to keep the play park clean and safe.

Councillor Linda Hughes, who a ward member for the area on Darlington Borough Council, described the arson attack as 'senseless'.

"It is so disheartening," she said. "We had 25 people taking part who collected more than 35 bags of rubbish – 20 from the play Dene alone – but before we could get them removed they were set alight.

"We have people from the community all coming together to clean up the area and it only takes a couple of idiots to ruin it for everyone – it's just senseless.

The Northern Echo:

The bags of rubbish collected on Saturday

"It is really frustrating for all of the volunteers who have worked so hard to pick up rubbish and broken glass.

"The ward councillors are speaking to the council's community safety team to look at ways of addressing the problem of anti-social behaviour in the area. In the last few weeks there has been a number incidents in the Denes area and it is becoming a concern.

"I would urge anyone who witnesses anti-social behaviour in the area to call the police or get in touch with the council to report it otherwise they will not be able to do anything about the problem."

A spokeswoman for the Friends of the Denes urged people to call the police, saying: "They may not send someone out to deal with it straight away, but it will be logged and the more call logs that are received increases this as problem area. Councillors are working with the Anti Social Behaviour Team but need residents to complain."

At the weekend the council and Darlington Police launched the use of new legislation aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour in the town centre following a number of complaints. However, the new powers have not been called into action yet.

Anti-social behaviour can be reported to the Darlington Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101 or to the Council’s Civic Enforcement Team on 01325-406999.