Manchester Evening News

FURY AS PARK SCULPTURES STOLEN

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FAMILIES say they’re saddened after wooden sculptures from a park’s fairytale trail were stolen.

Ten statues were installed at Clifton Country Park, in Salford, back in 2017, at a cost of £5,000 and have been enjoyed by thousands of children over the years.

Among the characters featured were the much-loved Gruffalo, an owl, a fox, a fairytale house and more.

But now only two remain and all that’s left of the others are the wooden stumps after someone took a chainsaw to them and chopped them down before stealing them from the park. The only two left are the fairytale house and the Green

Man’s face. It’s thought to have been a carefully-planned operation and would have taken some resources to move the heavy sculptures from the site, which is accessed via Clifton House Road, which runs off the A666.

The theft happened just before Christmas but visitors to the park are only just discoverin­g what’s happened.

Dad Michael Palmer described the vandalism as ‘mindless’, adding: “It’s so sad. I feel like so many children have been robbed of something magical.”

“I was hoping they’d just been taken by the council for repairs or something,” he said. “But the girl in the cafe told us they’d been stolen by someone who had come with a chainsaw during the night. She said there was CCTV but it wasn’t able to pick up the registrati­on on the van. It’s such a big job to take all these in one go, so it seems like it was well organised.” Coun Barbara Bentham said: “We are deeply saddened and concerned by the theft. These sculptures, designed to promote outdoor play and spark children’s imaginatio­n, were cherished by the local community and visitors.

“The theft of these sculptures is not only an act of vandalism but also robs children of the opportunit­y to engage with nature and experience the joy and creativity these installati­ons provide. We strongly condemn these criminal actions and are committed to working closely with Greater Manchester Police to ensure those responsibl­e are brought to justice.”

One of the sculptures

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