PUBLIC toilets in two Hartlepool parks are to be closed early on a daily basis as a result of repeated vandalism.

The toilets at Ward Jackson Park and Rossmere Park will close at around 4.30pm from Monday (May 17), while the parks themselves will remain open until later in the evening.

Much of the damage is occurring once park staff have left work at the end of the day, and it is increasing in frequency with the lighter nights.

The early closures will continue until the end of October, when the toilet and park closing times will once again align.

Council officials say they haven’t taken the decision lightly, but the escalating cost of repairing the damaged facilities has left them with no other option.

Richard Harlanderson from Hartlepool Borough Council said: “The vast majority of people who visit the parks do so to enjoy the space and treat the facilities with respect, but a small minority seem determined to indulge in anti-social and criminal behaviour.

“We acknowledge that the early closure will cause park visitors some inconvenience and we apologise for that, but we simply cannot let this situation continue.

“Damage is occurring on an almost daily basis, with the vandals smashing soap, hand sanitiser and paper dispensers. Other fittings, including sinks, baby changers and toilets, are also being regularly damaged.

“In the last few months alone, the cost of repairing the damage has exceeded £1,000.”

Parks staff are also having to frequently clean filth from the windows, floors, walls and ceilings of the toilet blocks.

At Ward Jackson Park, the same youths who have also caused severe damage to the bowling green and associated buildings are believed to be responsible for the damage to the toilets.

The Council is working closely with Cleveland Police who are staging extra patrols and outreach youth workers have been deployed to engage with young people.

Park visitors and residents living near to both parks are asked to contact the police on 101 if they see damage being caused or anyone acting suspiciously.