VANDALISM of a refurbished cliff top shelter has been described as “heartbreaking” by representatives of a village community group.

The covered structure at the green off Wharncliffe Road in Highcliffe had been renovated in an £80,000 project in autumn last year as part of a wider coastal improvement scheme.

To the dismay of community leaders, residents and councillor,s a large reinforced glass window on the shelter was found smashed on Friday morning, with a large hole in the middle of the pane.

Shards of glass were left strewn across the ground, alongside various items of litter.

Mary Reader, of Highcliffe Residents Association, said the anti-social behaviour was extremely disheartening.

“It is just thoroughly depressing,” said Mrs Reader. “There are so many people working hard in this village to make it a better place for the community. To have people who turn up at the cliff top and deliberately damage something like this is heartbreaking.

“Whoever did this needs to be dealt with seriously. It is disgraceful.”

The cliff top shelter improvements project was part of the Dorset Coastal Connections initiative.

It had been funds from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

It was one of 18 projects, which aimed to connect people to the coast with public space enhancements.

Mrs Reader said members of the community had been working for years to secure a facelift for the shelters in the village. She added: “To have waited all this time to get them replaced and now someone has deliberately vandalised is so painful.”

Independent councillor Nigel Brooks, BCP Council member for Highcliffe, went to the scene to inspect the damage for himself on Friday morning before going on to speak with residents in the area about the situation.

“There seems to have been a spate of incidents every time there are school holidays and this could be a reflection of that,” said Cllr Brooks, who is also an elected member for Highcliffe and Walkford Neighbourhood Council.

“It is an area that a lot of people walk in and it is a great shame for something like to happen.”

The Daily Echo contacted BCP Council for comment and at the time of going to print had not received a response.

A Dorset Police spokesperson said they had not received any reports of incidents in the Wharncliffe Road area.