ARSONISTS have wrecked a village hall – the ‘hub of the community’ – after using a wheelie bin to set it alight.

Linda Sawyer, chairman of the Old Hurst Parish Council, said when she turned up to the village hall last Thursday (January 19), she saw smoke and flames rising from the back of the building.

Mrs Sawyer, 63, was one of a small group of councillors due to attend a meeting shortly after 7pm. They tried to get into the village hall to get to a fire extinguisher, but the smoke was too thick for them to enter the building.

"It's really annoying that someone would want to damage our building," Mrs Sawyer said. "I've lived here for all my life and saw it being built 50 years ago. When I was 13, I went to the first youth club here.

"For a very small village, it really was the hub of the community. A lot of groups held meetings there, we have council meetings, flower arranging classes, and scouts."

Fire investigators said a wheelie bin was placed next to the single-storey building and set alight "with the intention of damaging a public building."

Part of the roof and a wall of the hall, a former RAF building, was destroyed by the blaze which Graham Bull, treasurer of the village hall committee and vice chairman of the parish council, said he hoped will be repaired quickly.

The parish council was looking to find neighbouring villages to hold meetings until the hall is repaired.

INFORMATION: If you saw anything suspicious around the village hall call Cambridgeshire police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.