VANDALS have broken into a Scouting centre near York.

The Snowball Plantation, near Stockton on the Forest, includes eight camping sites and two main buildings surrounded by farmland, and provides a safe environment for Scouts and Cubs throughout the city, with weekly and evening camps.

In the early hours of today, vandals are understood to have attacked the site with an axe, possibly looking for items to steal, but leaving it in disarray and badly damaged.

Anthony Hale, chairman of the Snowball Plantation, which is also known as the York Scout Activity Centre, said his colleagues were on the scene, and details as to the extent of the damage were still emerging.

He said: "I understand excessive and needless damage has been done by vandals at the site and it is a great shame that our users have had to suffer the inconvenience of having their bookings cancelled.

"The level of damage I have been told is not just bored kids, it's a more adult attack. We are talking about broken windows, we are talking about an axe attack on a front door, and we are talking a number of buildings that have been entered forcibly. We have discussed the situation with visitors who are due this weekend, and future bookings are under review."

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said they were called to the scene at 4.30am by an alarm company who were reporting intruders at the site.

They were also contacted by North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, who also attended the scene, where police have remained throughout this morning.

Forensic officers are still at the site, and a review of the site is taking place to see whether anything has been stolen in the attack.