Convicted criminals have been brought in to stage a clean-up operation after vandals caused thousands of pounds worth of damage during an arson attack in Barrhead.

Last week, we told how a giant container used by local community groups at the Water Works site was left gutted by fire.

The entire contents of the container were destroyed, including toys, books and barbecue utensils.

Since then, offenders ordered to carry out community work as part of their sentence have been assigned to clean up the mess at the Glasgow Road site.

The operation was organised by East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), which is responsible for managing Community Payback Orders imposed by courts as an alternative to prison.

Kate Rocks, HSCP head of public protection and children services, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to support the clean-up of the container site at the Water Works.

“The purpose of Community Payback Orders is to ensure those in receipt of the sentence carry out work that is beneficial to our communities – and this is a great example of this.

“I am sorry that the damage to the container is irreparable and the goods inside were lost but it’s positive that the space is now safe and tidy.”

Water Works was opened in 2017 and also includes an orchard, wildflower plot and a memorial garden.

It was built eight years ago on the site of a former sewage works.

One of the charities affected by the fire damage is East Renfrewshire ASN Parents Action Group, which campaigns for children with autism and complex needs.

It lost all of the equipment it had stored in the container.

Oonagh McKinnon, who helps to run ERA, described the arson attack as “horrible.”

She said: “Most of the equipment had been stored there through the winter and was due to be used by the children over the summer.”

The container was also used by children at Carlibar Primary School and local toddlers groups.

East Renfrewshire Council said the fire was “extremely disappointing.”

Police are investigating the fire, which took place on May 22, and have asked anyone with information to call 101.