Broadway blazes leave community in shock

10:36am Wednesday 26th March 2014

BLAZES started in Broadway causing irreparable damage to public buildings were part of an arson attack that has devastated the Cotswold village.

Villagers in Broadway were shocked to discover five arson attempts had taken place between 5pm on Monday evening and 8am the next day reducing doorways of public buildings to ashes.

The 11th century St Eadburgha's Church in Snowshill Road was targeted by the fire starters and its 12th century medieval door was destroyed.

Also hit was the Lifford Hall, Broadway Police Station, the village library and an attempt was made to start a fire at the Barn Close Surgery.

Reverend Michelle Massey said the attack was really disheartening.

"I was woken up at 3am and the door to St Eadburgha's Church was almost completely burnt away," she said. "They think it was the first one set and it was blazing away for about an hour. The old medieval door is gone. It is irreplaceable.

"It's really disheartening. The church looks really sad. They targeted five areas, it looks like the whole village. All I am hearing at the moment is how shocked everybody is. It's really sad.

"But the police and the fire service did all they could."

David Folkes, Broadway Parish Council chairman, added: "It's devastating really that this sort of thing would happen. The two front doors of the Lifford Hall and at St Eadburgha's Church are completely demolished and are in a pile of ashes.

"They must have used gun powder or that sort of thing."

The campaigners behind the scheme to keep Broadway Library open as a community venture said it wouldn't stop them, although the library is closed this week.

Anna Wegner, from library campaign, said: "We will still be holding the chic children's nearly new sale at St Mary's RC School on April 6 from 10am until noon."

Police are now appealing for witnesses.

Detective Inspector Neil Austin said: "Although we are at the very early stages of our investigation, it is clear these incidents are linked.

"It is very unusual for a series of buildings to be targeted in one go like this, especially in Broadway, which is otherwise a very peaceful place.

"Thankfully no one has been hurt, but obviously the consequences of these fires could have been far worse and we need to find those responsible as soon as possible.

"One witness saw a small, dark-coloured car make off at speed from the scene of the police station and library fires, which may be or may not be involved."

Anyone who saw any suspicious activity Monday night in Broadway should contact the police on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting number 3s 25/03/14.

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