A CONTERVERSIAL youth shelter, which won Sawtry Parish Council an award for working with young people, has been damaged in an arson attack. Arsonists dragged bundles of newspaper to the shelter on St Judith s Field and then set fire to them in the early h

The damage

A CONTERVERSIAL youth shelter, which won Sawtry Parish Council an award for working with young people, has been damaged in an arson attack.

Arsonists dragged bundles of newspaper to the shelter on St Judith's Field and then set fire to them in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Diane Collins, the parish council clerk, told The Hunts Post she was disappointed by what had happened.

"It is hard to believe that someone would do such a thing. It is a well- used facility, used by both youths and dog walkers. It is such mindless vandalism."

She added that although the shelter was badly damaged, it was repairable and would be not be removed from the village.

However, the fire has restarted debate about the shelter. The £5,000 facility, which was erected in October 2006, had divided the village with some residents concerned the shelter would create noise and mess.

David Edwards, of Green End Road, Sawtry, believes the money needed to repair the shelter could be better spent on other things.

"As a resident of Sawtry who lives at the other end of the village, I have no feelings either way on the damage, other than, if the parish council have to use Council Tax payers' money to repair mindless damage like this, I feel it is money that could be better spent on other things that would benefit the village as a whole."

Eric Lane, of St Judith's Lane,, added: "We were out at the time so didn't know anything about it until the following morning. We were horrified at the damage but there are a lot of people here saying, 'I told you so'."

Sawtry firefighters were called to the fire in the early hours of Sunday morning and had it under control just after 5am.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was caused by "deliberate ignition" and a Cambridgeshire police spokesperson added that they were "actively investigating the arson".

It is believed the people behind the fire may have been captured on CCTV.

The shelter won the parish council a national community empowerment award last September.

INFORMATION: Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on 0845 4564564 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.