“DISGRACEFUL” vandals riding motorbikes have left taxpayers to pick up the repair bill after targeting a club’s cricket pitch.

Vandalism to the pitch at Harwich and Dovercourt Cricket Club, in Low Road, Dovercourt, is believed to have taken place overnight on Thursday.

Bikers tore up the grass around the cricket square by riding across it at speed, leaving the pitch decimated by deep muddy tracks.

Ward councillor Maria Fowler (Lab, Dovercourt All Saints) hit out at the vandals.

“It is disgraceful,” she said.

“It is spoiling the fun and enjoyment of the area for other people.

“The whole area is important to the community.

“In the summer months there are lots of people down there flying kites and playing sports like rounders.

“On a cricket pitch, it is just about the worst place for this to take place.

“I have seen motorbikes before about in the area and there have been reports of quad bikes.

“Sadly, it happens a lot.

“It is disappointing anything like this would happen and it is always the taxpayer who has to pick up the bill for it.”

Tendring Council owns the facility and leases the pitches to the cricket club.

Initial repairs, including top dressing the damage and reseeding the grass, began on Monday.

The council is set to investigate the possibility of providing a more substantial barrier around the cricket square for use over the winter months when it is not in use by sportspeople.

A spokesman for the club said its fixtures would not be affected as the vandalism took place outside the playing season.

However, Alex Porter, Tendring councillor responsible for leisure and tourism, deplored the vandalism and asked anyone with information to come forward.

“Officers work hard to maintain the district’s leisure services – along with much help – so residents and visitors alike can enjoy it,” he said.

“Acts of vandalism such as this are just terrible, not only spoiling facilities residents and club goers use but also adding to the workload of our officers and staff who put in so much effort to keep our facilities maintained.”

It is not known how much the repairs to the pitch will cost the council.

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