VANDALS have torn down part of a fence separating a children's play area from a railway line.

The play facility, on the Oakfield Lodge estate, off Brinkburn Road, Darlington, was completed last August.

Councillor Bryan Thistlethwaite said it had become a meeting point for anti-social youths, who had pulled down part of the railway fence and tree branches.

"The vandals seem to be congregating at the play area, and the back of the fence on the railway line gets cut out, leading right onto the track," he said. "Kids can get straight on to the railway line now.

"Network Rail replaced it last time it happened, but it's gone again.

"These irresponsible youths seem to be a small core of 13 to 15-year-olds. I think it's kids from other areas who are doing it. They are gathering there and making a lot of noise."

Coun Thistlethwaite plans to send out leaflets in the area to warn parents of the damage done. He will also ask dog owners to stop letting their pets use the play area as a toilet.

"What I want is a wake-up call to the people doing this," he said.

"The play area itself is lovely and it's really annoying that this is happening."

A Network Rail spokeswoman said it had not been made aware of the latest vandalism but would fix the fence.

"Our prime concern is to make sure that people are safe and not getting on to the railway," she added.

She urged anyone who spotted damage to railway property to report it on 0845 7114 141.