“MINDLESS” yobs have beens slammed for setting a picnic bench on fire near to a children’s play area.

The fire service was called to Canvey Lake last Thursday, at roughly 3.25pm, to reports a park bench had been targeted.

It is believed a group of “older teenagers” caused the destruction - with Essex Fire confirming the blaze was started deliberately.

The incident comes after equipment in a children’s play area in Larup Avenue was set alight on the island.

Joan Thomas, 56, of Long Avenue, said: “It is nothing short of disgraceful.

“Don’t these mindless yobs have something better to do with their time?

“A lot of time and money has gone into that area, those benches are not old, the new play area has only been there a year or so.

“It is ridiculous, parents take their children there to play, and then benches are being set on fire.”

Castle Point councillor David Thomas, who lives in Glenwood, near to Canvey lake, uploaded a video of the bench ablaze to Facebook.

He said: “It is really disappointing.

“It is just out the back of my house, right by where the new playground has been installed.

“My children play in there, as do lots of children, so they would have seen the fire service putting it out.

“It is not surprising to hear it has been started deliberately, that is what everyone said immediately when I posted the video on social media.

“It is sad they feel the need to do things like this, this is a really nice area and a lot of work has gone into it so it is a shame.

“It is very frustrating, we think it was a group of slightly older teenagers who started this.

“We have seen more and more patrols and a higher police presence on the island, but we need visible policing so people know they will be seen and caught.”

A spokesman for Essex Fire confirmed that it was called to Cedar Road, Canvey, at 3.25pm on Thursday.

Officers were attending reports that a park bench had been set alight.

The fire was extinguished fully by 3.45pm and the cause has been recorded as deliberate.