Vandals have targeted the "jewel in the crown" of a Norfolk town in what has been described as a "reckless" attack. 

The Queen Mother's Garden in Dereham saw one of its benches badly damaged during an incident last month. 

The garden was refurbished in 2022 with wheelchair-friendly paths, sensory planting areas and new picnic benches. New CCTV and security gates were also installed to combat anti-social behaviour issues.

However, one of the benches has now been vandalised to the point that it is unsafe and unusable. 

Eastern Daily Press: The damaged benchThe damaged bench (Image: Breckland Council)Harry Clarke, leader of the Labour Group at Breckland Council, said: "We are saddened, disappointed, and a little angry that what we have called our jewel in the crown has been subject to wanton vandalism.

"It’s fortunate that our town and district councils foresaw the need for enhanced security in the garden, and I hope these vandals we will be caught as soon as possible."

The damage was discovered on March 30 and the incident was reported to police. Councillors are now in the process of working through the garden's CCTV footage to find those responsible. 

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Alison Webb, Breckland councillor, said: "Dereham is rightly proud of the Queen Mother’s Garden as a tranquil haven in the middle of our town, and a fitting tribute to our late Queen Mother. 

"We have transformed the garden into a space that should be shared, enjoyed and cherished by everyone. To see that it has been vandalised, selfishly and recklessly, is very disappointing."

Ms Webb says the bench, which was secured to the ground, appears to have been kicked repeatedly. It is now being repaired with new fittings. 

Eastern Daily Press: The Queen Mother opens the garden to commemorate her 80th birthdayThe Queen Mother opens the garden to commemorate her 80th birthday (Image: Archant)The award-winning regeneration of the Queen Mother's Garden took place over three-and-a-half months and was a collaborative project between Breckland Council and Dereham Town Council. 

It was first opened by the Queen Mother herself in 1983.