CHILDREN in Whitehills are being forced to cross a busy main road after vandals damaged a well-used footbridge.
Hawkwood Bridge, which links the two sides of Whitehills, was damaged when a green wheelie bin filled with household rubbish was wheeled under the wooden bridge during the early hours of Sunday morning and set alight.
The bridge links Hawkwood to the Parkfield and Anderside area across High Whitehills Road.
The resultant flames and smoke have left the bridge damaged and as a result of safety fears it remains closed to the public.
The pedestrian bridge is heavily used by the local community for access to the Scotmid convenience store in Hawkwood and for those visiting the Ballerup Pitches area in the other direction.
The road which runs under it is also a main route through the area and any debris which could have fallen from the bridge could have resulted in a serious accident.
One resident told the News: “I was going to the shop for my Sunday paper when I saw something was going on at the bridge and two fire engines were nearby.
“It seems some idiots had set a bin on fire underneath one side of it so it’s had to be closed off.
“When my kids were young, they were warned against crossing High Whitehills Road as it’s always busy and lots of drivers go too fast. Now people have no choice as the bridge is still blocked off.”
A spokesman for South Lanarkshire Council said: “Following the fire, this timber footbridge was closed in the interests of public safety. The bridge will be subject to a detailed inspection by Structures Section staff this week.
“The results of the inspection will provide us with information regarding the magnitude of the repair work required and will additionally give us an idea of the length of time the bridge will be closed.
“We appreciate this structure forms part of an important pedestrian route and we will be endeavouring to complete the repairs and re-open the bridge as soon as possible.
“We would ask that anyone witnessing vandalism of any kind in the park report the matter immediately to the police.”
Inspector Maurice Lindsay of East Kilbride police added: “Officers are currently investigating a willful fire-raising which occurred between 2am and 2.45pm on July 29 at the Hawkwood Bridge.
“A report has been made to the police with regards to a green wheelie bin containing rubbish being set on fire beneath the bridge, causing damage to the bridge itself.”
PC Chris Driscoll of East Kilbride Community Policing Unit is carrying out inquiries into this incident and would appreciate any information. He can be contacted on 01355 564000 or through the Strathclyde Police website.