A SCHOOL community has been left devastated after heartless yobs broke into its new multi-use games area (MUGA) and stole artificial turf - before children even had a chance to use it.

The new facility, at St Clare’s Catholic Primary School in Fagley, had only been in place for a couple of days when the culprits managed to cut the security fence to gain access and cruelly ruin the area, which came at a “significant cost” to the small school.

It’s now out of action at a time when children should have been able to make the most of it.

Those responsible have been slammed as “disgusting”.

Eileen DiFiori, Chair of Governors at the school, has spoken of her heartbreak.

She said: “The children had not had chance to play on it.

“They were so excited. It’s such a big thing for them.

“We’ve spent so much time debating whether to do it and then for it to be destroyed, so soon after it has been installed.

“I love that school and I really want the best for the kids.

“You try and do something nice for the kids - somebody just thinks ‘we’ll take it’.

“It’s just so upsetting.”

Speaking of the moment she saw photographs of the destruction, she added: “I can’t even describe the feeling of how gutted we all were about it. That someone would think to do it.

“I can imagine they probably think it’s a victimless crime.”

And sending a message to the culprits, she said: “Think about the children, the impact it has had on the children.

“They were so excited. It looked so lovely.”

She highlighted how the new area was all the more important as a lot of other facilities in the area have closed down.

The MUGA would have provided a space for children to play football, cricket, netball and basketball on an artificial turf surface.

It would have been available all-year round, when wet weather may have prevented the use of the school’s grass playing field and tarmac playground.

When the planning application for the new facility was submitted, the school said: “The MUGA will provide essential all year round sports facilities for the school’s pupils on the school playing field.

“At present the playing field can only be used in the summer months and this is very limiting in our physical education provision and our drive to reduce childhood obesity.”

It was hoped it would also have been available for community use.

Councillor Geoff Red (Lib Dem, Eccleshill), whose ward covers the Fagley area, said: “It’s mindless.

“The local councillors saw this as a positive development. It’s very sad that this should happen in Fagley.

“The chances are, this is somebody harming their own community. They are doing the community no favours.

“It’s very sad.”

Cllr Reid added: “At a time when we are fighting for better community facilities, we can do without this sort of thing.

“Children deserve the best we can offer them - the school were making an effort with this new development - it’s a great shame.”

And his fellow Lib Dem ward councillor Brendan Stubbs added: “It’s disgusting.

“When the school put in the application, I said at the time I was fully supportive.

“These things are not cheap then to have someone try to steal it the moment it’s laid down.

“I hope the police catch who it is and deal with them quite severely.”

Cllr Stubbs added; “They are primary school kids - they don’t deserve that sort of treatment.

“How do you explain to these children? Somebody has just turned up and destroyed it.

“It’s disgusting - there’s no other way of putting it.

“For me, it’s on a par with things like when you find out people have been mugged or scammed - they are not picking on someone their own age.”

He urged anyone with any information about who the culprits are to tell police to make sure those responsible are brought to justice.

“We just need to make sure these children know the outcome - people who did something wrong were punished for it,” Cllr Stubbs said

West Yorkshire Police confirmed it had received a report on the incident, which happened at some point between 10pm on April 17 and 8am on April 18.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police via 101, quoting crime reference number 13190200105.