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[BKARTS] Anger has been directed at arsonists in Whitnash who have forced the closure of the town's library.



Arsonists spark anger at library

Anger has been directed at arsonists in Whitnash who have forced the closure
of the town's library.

Fire crews were called out at 9.25pm on Monday when a blaze was started in
an extractor fan.

Smoke filled the building and an IT suite was badly damaged.

Whitnash residents, councillors and library staff this week united in
condemnation of the attack on the Franklin Road building.

Area manager for central Warwickshire libraries John Crossling said: "We
feel a degree of disgust about this. It seems so pointless. We are doing our
best to provide a service to the local community and have got computers in
there which are aimed at the younger generation. Yet it appears to be
members of that generation who are behind this."

Mr Crossling added: "We have worked hard to get the facilities in there and
this is a major setback."

The library will re-open next week at the soonest.

Mr Crossling said: "The biggest issue is a major clean up plus electronic
repairs are quite likely.

"Some of it can be done by conventional cleaners, but we also need
specialists.

"The smoke has permeated the entire building and there is a deposit of soot
on the top of the books.

"We were fortunate with the IT suite as it looks like it's working."

Firefighters broke in and spent more than an hour extinguishing the blaze.
They suspect a security grill was ripped off in order to set fire to
material stuffed inside an air vent. The incident is the most serious in a
string of attacks aimed at the library, which has seen youths hanging around
intimidating staff.

Coun Bernard Kirton (Ind, Whitnash) said: "This was planned. The library
staff are certainly dispirited as attacks of one form or another have been
going on for weeks, months even."

Library user Louise Gough, of Heathcote Road, said: "This is appalling. It's
an attack against the whole community."

Mr Crossling said the library may become a "one-stop shop" in the future
with a mixture of local authority services - including a police presence.

He added that CCTV coverage for the outside of the building had also been
requested.

Police are looking for three youths wearing light-coloured hooded tops.
Anyone with information should contact Pc Rob Garrison on 431560.

http://www.leamingtonspatoday.co.uk/

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