A PROJECT for young footballers that was given more than £500,000 to get off the ground has been thwarted by arsonists for a third time. The old Priory Park Pavilion in St Neots has, over the past year, been attacked by arsonists on two occasions. In th
A PROJECT for young footballers that was given more than £500,000 to get off the ground has been thwarted by arsonists for a third time.
The old Priory Park Pavilion in St Neots has, over the past year, been attacked by arsonists on two occasions.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, arsonists struck again, but this time their target was the half-built new pavilion.
Firefighters were called at 2.22am to tackle the blaze in the half-constructed roof. It is believed half a dozen safety bags at the site were piled up and set on fire.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "When the crew from St Neots arrived they were faced with 50 per cent of the floor well alight and 50 per cent of the roof joists alight."
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said the incident was being investigated as suspected arson.
Work began on the new pavilion after Huntingdonshire District Council successfully secured a £307,651 grant from the Football Foundation last November. The money is being used to build a new changing pavilion with a kitchen and refreshment area as part of an overall project costing £513,651. The initiative is supported by Huntingdonshire Football Association, Priory Parkside FC and the Local Football Partnership.
A spokesman for Huntingdonshire District Council said the fire was just a minor hiccup for the project. The spokesman added: "It is frustrating that something like this has happened but we see it as only a small setback. It may delay the project slightly but the pavilion is still due to open early September."
Mark Hilton chairman of Priory Parkside Football Club said there had been a pattern of arson attacks on both pavilions. He said: "I was quite emotional when I saw the damage. We have 450 kids between the ages of five and 17 play football here and it is lacking in facilities so it is sad to think that youngsters could be responsible for this mindless and almost continuous vandalism. What we have to remember is these kids are from our own community and could be our neighbour's kids. As a community we have to think what we want to do about this?"
Mr Hilton is going to ask the district council if lighting and CCTV cameras can be installed to protect the new pavilion. He added: "We live in fear of what we will find when we arrive at the old pavilion and we do not want this to be the case with the new one."
INFORMATION: Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 4564564.