COMMUNITY officials have hit out at arsonists who burned out a defibrillator cabinet at a village football ground.

Euxton Parish Council will have to spend in the region £1,000 to repair the cabinet and install electrics to the defibrillator after vandals set fire to the equipment on Greenside in Euxton, sometime on March 27.

It has shocked officials from Euxton Girls FC as the ground was the venue where Melissa Smith collapsed and died playing for Cadley U16s against Euxton in October 2014. It was after her tragic and untimely death that moves were made to install the defibrillator.

County Councillor Aidy Riggott, who represents Euxton, Buckshaw and Astley, led on the parish council’s defibrillator project to install defibrillators across Euxton when he was chairman.

Cllr Riggott said: “I am absolutely disgusted by this behaviour.

“It is appalling to see what some individuals have deliberately and intentionally done to this important piece of life-saving equipment that has been provided for the safety of those using the sports pitches and surrounding facilities.

“Clearly some people have no regard for others safety. This could have also been a much more serious incident if the fire had spread.”

Vice-chairman Alan Heyes of Euxton Girls said: “We were absolutely appalled, you really cannot understand the mentality of some people. Why would anybody cause damage to an item that could prevent a death?

“As a sporting club we believe that it is of the utmost importance to have any product that can help prevent injury or in worst circumstances death.

“This is not just important to the football club but also to the community, the fields attract dog walkers and children playing, and should something happen to them this defibrillator is available.

“It has been in for a couple of years now and thankfully has never and will never be needed.

“We do not believe that the defibrillator itself has come to any harm but the cabinet is completely ruined and needs to be replaced. We have a new cabinet on order but we should not be having to replace it in the first place.”

The club is now appealing for witnesses.

Mr Heyes added: “We know that the perpetrator will not come forward, but we really hope that somebody who may have been with them or witnessed the event will have the heart to come forward and report them.

“There have been quite a lot of incidents around the playing fields, in the past week alone we have found a drug bong, an empty barrel of beer, lots of broken glass, and the garage where the football gear is stored stinks of urine. The changing rooms have been broken into in the recent past, the storage garage has been broken into as well.”

Clerk to Euxton Parish Council Debra Platt said: “It is a small amount of money to spend to potentially save someone’s life.

“But it is just the principle of it all that they have not thought about the impact it could have.”

Cllr Danny Gee, who represents Euxton North, was shocked by the news.

He said: “When I first heard about it I was fuming and went from really upset to calming down. I could not believe someone did this to a piece of equipment which could save someone’s life. If the people who did it are caught they need to be educated about the consequences of their actions.”