BASILDON taxpayers will have to fork out £700 after “mindless yobs” ripped down fencing at a country park to have a barbecue.

The vandals broke in to Wick Country Park, off Tresco Way, in Wickford, and then set about causing the damage.

They ripped down seven rails and eight posts of security fencing before setting fire to it for a barbecue.

The incident is now being investigated by Essex Police as arson.

Kevin Blake, Basildon Council’s deputy leader, said: “It is a Basildon Council priority to replace the fencing as soon as possible, as it is an important health and safety measure around the lake.

“Unfortunately, it will cost £700 of taxpayers’ money to do so.

“This kind of mindless, yobbish behaviour not only puts legitimate visitors at risk, it also uses up the money we had earmarked to spend on maintaining facilities in our country parks .

“I urge everyone who sees this sort of vandalism to report it the police and help us stamp it out.”

Anyone with information about the arson should contact Essex Police on 101.