POLICE were last night hunting vandals who built a barrier from tree branches and rocks across one of the North-East's busiest roads.

Four cars were damaged when unsuspecting motorists ploughed into the barricade on the A174 Middlesbrough Parkway in the early hours of Saturday.

Last night, Cleveland's Chief Constable Sean Price condemned the culprits as mindless yobs and vowed they would be brought to justice.

Police said no one was injured, but four cars were badly damaged after hitting the barrier which had been strung across the westbound carriageway of the A174 which has a 70mph speed limit.

The obstruction was placed on the road behind Cleveland Police's regional headquarters.

Last night, local MP Ashok Kumar insisted police should have been better prepared after rocks were hurled at traffic using the same road the previous weekend.

He is requesting an urgent meeting with Mr Price.

Mr Kumar, who is Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, said: "This is utter madness and could lead to death.''

In the previous incident, near the Marton Country Club, where a bridge spans the Parkway, three cars were damaged but again, no one was seriously injured.

Mr Kumar said: "I am amazed that the police - despite the fact of there having been an earlier incident - did not seem bothered to prevent this becoming a hot spot.

"I will be contacting the chief constable as a matter of urgency to make sure there are sufficient car and foot patrols in this area.

"We have to stop this before there is a tragedy,'' said the MP.

A spokesman for the chief constable said: "This is the first incident of its kind to happen in Cleveland.

"It was an outrageous act, committed by mindless yobs, which put the lives of the public and officers at risk. It could easily have resulted in serious injuries or death.''

The spokesman added: "We are treating it extremely seriously, but it is not something we have come upon before.

"The chief constable will be able to discuss road policing with Mr Kumar when he makes contact.''

Police are appealing for anyone with information about the obstruction to contact them on (01642) 301558 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Sergeant Paul Dee, who is investigating the latest incident, said: "This was a serious criminal act which could have resulted in death or serious injury of a person.

"It is very fortunate that no one was injured."