Residents have spoken of their shock after extensive damage was caused to football pitches in Blackburn.

Deep tyre tracks could be seen sprawled across Woolridge Playing Fields, off Pleckgate Road this morning. It is believed the damage was caused by a Black VW Golf driving over the grass at around 11pm last night (November 20). Police are said to be investigating the incident.

The playing fields had undergone a £460,000 three-year investment and opened to local football clubs and leagues in 2017. Both junior and senior football teams use the pitches week in week out and were due to return after the lockdown.

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Graham Harris is Leisure Facilities Manager at Blackburn with Darwen Council and lives nearby. He said, “This is just terrible. It is the kids who will suffer.

“Many juniors teams play on here and would have returned to the pitches in December. This is just a shocking act of vandalism. Especially since all the money that has been spent getting these pitches up to standard.

“The residents all round here were all shocked too.”

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PC 5771 Eastwood of Blackburn Police said today, "We are appealing for the local community who live in the area of Pleckgate to get in touch regarding the terrible act of criminal damage to the sports field opposite Pleckgate High School.

"On the evening of Friday 20 November several cars have been seen driving over the football pitches causing thousands of pounds of damage to the grassed area. This will have a sadly massive impact on the local community by making the pitches out of action for the local football teams who enjoy them.

"So please can I appeal to the local community if you have any information please contact me quoting log number 1571 of 20/11/20 on my direct mobile 07970 600424 or by contacting crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111."

There are five new pitches on the Wooldridge site - formerly Pleckgate Playing Fields. The pavilion was redeveloped thanks to a £100,000 grant from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund.

The pitches are used by the Blackburn Combination League, the Blackburn Sunday League, the Abu Hanifah Foundation as well as junior leagues.