LEDBURY firefighters have been abused by arsonists amid a spate of deliberate fires that have seen them called out 25 times this year.

Now, a town councillor has said security at the Recreational Grounds — a hotspot for the fires in bins and shopping trolleys — needs to be looked at “urgently”.

Tony Bradford said incidents had become more regular over the past few months. “I've had constituents contacting me with reports of car windscreens being smashed and fires being lit,” he said. “People have been drinking there all night long. 

“This weekend I have heard of more fires and a police officer being attacked.”

A spokesman for West Mercia Police said they did not have any records of an officer being attacked at the park. 

However, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service has spoken out about the fires this week. 

Watch Commander Rich Cooper of Ledbury Fire Station described the incidents as an “unwelcome distraction”.

“There have been around 25 calls to this type of fire this year,” he said.

“They usually involve wood being set on fire in rubbish bins or in shopping trolleys.

“While we are attending this type of incident, we are being prevented from attending potentially more serious calls and they also provide an unnecessary disruption to the home and work life of our on-call firefighters.

“The individuals who started these fires were also abusive to our crew when they came to put the fire out and this is something they should not have to contend with.”

There have also been reports of numerous hoax call-outs to the park. 

Writing on social media last Saturday, John Preedy said: “Once again at one o’clock this morning three police vehicles and fire engine summoned to the recreation grounds. 

“If we are not careful this could develop into a tragedy happening the fire brigade being sent out on fools errands. Over the last month I think its the fourth or fifth time. Any ideas how to stop these hoaxes?”

Coun Bradford has questioned whether security at the park is up to scratch. He said: “Are our CCTV cameras in top condition and is there anything we need to do? Should we upgrade our own CCTV? This all urgently needs looking at.”

He also said he understood why such problems were occurring. “Young adults go down to the rec because there’s nowhere else for them to go. Youth services are non-existent in the town.”

Town council clerk Angela Price said: “Ledbury Town Council are aware of recent issues at the recreation ground and are working with the Police and Fire Brigade to help resolve these issues.  

“We are reviewing CCTV footage of the recreation ground regularly and providing any relevant footage to the Police to help with their enquiries.”