STAFF fear an arson attack could have destroyed a pre-school in Winsford,

Vandals torched a fence and tree in the grounds of St Chad's Pre-School on Gladstone Street shortly before 3.30pm yesterday.

Winsford Guardian:

Vandals set fire to a fence and tree in the grounds of St Chad's Pre School

The pre-school is situated in the grounds of St Chad's CE Primary and Nursery School but operates independently.

Firefighters discovered a small amount of fencing was damaged at the back of the pre-school building.

The fire is believed to have been started deliberately and the police are appealing for witnesses.

Sheena Partington, chairman of directors at St Chad's Pre School, said: "If it hadn't been spotted by a resident it could have taken the whole building. There is a woodland play area full of trees which could have spread the fire. It could have been absolutely devastating.

Winsford Guardian:

Firefighters believe the fire was started deliberately and police are appealing for information

"We have a six foot metal fence around the entire perimeter of the school so they made an effort to get in. It's just mindless vandalism. Probably the actions of bored teenagers."

The fire damaged tyre planters and destroyed an area measuring approximately seven square feet.

"This is the latest in a long line of vandalism that we are receiving and as a charity we are struggling with this," said Sheena.

"We had vandalism spray painting on the back door a week ago and children's toys and equipment in a play area outside were damaged."

Winsford Guardian:

Mid Cheshire Pallets have kindly offered to replace the damaged fence

The pre-school currently supports 40 children and their families.

Yobs climbed onto the roof of a canopy a few weeks ago and destroyed it.

"We are having to take money out of a vital budget to support children and families to put CCTV and security measures in place,"added Sheena.

"Fortunately, we have a lovely community spirit in Winsford and parents came to help secure the fence last night."

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Mid Cheshire Pallets have also kindly offered to replace the damaged fence.

Anyone with information about the fire should call the police on 101, give the details via or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.