OUT of hours access points to a plastic football pitch in Greenock could be blocked off after louts damaged the park.

'Crawl space' access was introduced at the Inverclyde Academy 3G pitch on a year-long trial.

Holes were installed following a request to the council petitions committee last year, with 593 signatures on the sheet.

But the pitch has since been damaged, with a deliberate fire among the incidents recorded.

A report by council officials said: "The school reports that over the last year they have seen an increase in damage to the pitch and equipment sich a goals and nets.

"Whilst broken glass has always been an issue because of youth drinking on the pitch, incidents of broken glass have increased since the trial began.

"Complaints have been received from the school and from those who hire the pitches."

There has also been an increase in litter and greater demands on janitorial staff as a result of the anti-social acts.

A meeting of the education and communities committee saw Councillor David Wilson propose a motion to remove the crawl hole, opposing a plan to extend the access trial for another six months.

He said: "It was created on a one-year trial basis.

"Unfortunately during the year there has been damage to the artificial surface due to fires.

"Teachers have also had to remove broken glass and class tuition has been delayed while teachers search for broken glass.

"In my view interruptions by vandalism to pupils' curriculum should not be tolerated.

"I do not believe that an extension of the trial by six months will make any difference - the school comes first."

Mr Wilson's bid was defeated by a vote of 10-1 as committee members decided to extend the pilot.

Councillor Jim MacLeod said: "It's disappointing - litter is annoying but damage is something else."

Head of education Ruth Binks said: "There was one significant piece of damage and an increase of litter but I do appreciate the strength of feeling.

"There was quite a lot of disruption to PE classes and and litter and broken glass to be removed."

She said she didn't know how much it cost to repair the pitch.

Councillors were told that police are aware of the incident and community wardens are making daily checks in a bid to prevent any further damage to the pitch.