'Our school's under siege', says Flintshire headteacher

Reporter:

Kate Forrester

A FLINTSHIRE school has been hit by a series of reckless arson attacks.

Teachers have even had to cancel outdoor lessons because of damage caused by the fires.

Steven Lewis, headteacher at Ysgol Merllyn in Bagillt, is now warning the attacks could lead to ‘astronomical’ costs to the community.

He told the Leader his school had been targeted several times in the past few weeks.

Mr Lewis said: “Youths are coming onto the school grounds and setting fire to things like plastic bottles.

“It damages our equipment and it is of great concern to us when they are near the school building.

“The fire could easily spread and the cost of serious damage or losing a school would be astronomical, both financially and to the community.

“It is an ongoing problem for us and it is very distressing.”

Mr Lewis said lessons were being affected by the disruption caused.

He added: “The Welsh curriculum requires children to spend some time outside and we are often unable to provide that for the children at this school.

“Flintshire Council is aware of what is happening and supports us by replacing damaged equipment but that comes at a cost to everyone in Flintshire.”

Steve Cook, North Wales Fire Service’s deputy county safety manager, said: “We have attended a number of deliberate fires at Merllyn School and in the area surrounding it.

“Not only is starting fires deliberately a crime, it also means fire service appliances dealing with such ‘nuisance’ fires are not available for other types of incidents.

“This therefore affects the safety of the local community.

“I cannot understand the actions of those responsible for deliberate fires and the service is working closely with all agencies of the Flintshire County Safety Partnership to find a solution to this issue.

“I appeal to all members of the community to be vigilant and report any activity of fire starting to the police.”

To report an incident call North Wales Police on 0845 607 1002 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

See full story in the Leader

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