Hall vandalism leaves Stanton St Quintin nowhere to meet

This Is Wiltshire: Parish councillor Nick Greene outside the vandalised Stanton St Quintin hall. Picture by Paul Morris Parish councillor Nick Greene outside the vandalised Stanton St Quintin hall. Picture by Paul Morris

A spate of vandalism has left the community of Stanton St Quintin with nowhere to meet.

After fundraising efforts to modernise their village hall, the residents have discovered it is now out of action because vandals have smashed five windows.

Nick Greene, a churchwarden and parish councillor, discovered all the front windows had been broken when he arrived there on the morning of Sat-urday, July 19.

Hooligans then struck a second time, this time around the side of the building, leaving a mess of stones and glass inside.

The debris was cleared up by members of a guitar group led by Dave Haines the following Tuesday, July 22.

Mr Greene said the destruction had left village residents heartbroken.

He said: “These attacks are particularly devastating, as they coincide with efforts by villagers to secure the future of the hall by refurbishing the building to provide a much-needed indoor community space.

“Willing volunteers are actively involved in fundraising initiatives to allow the hall to be brought up to date.”

The village hall committee is taking over the lease of the 1930 hall from the church, with the aim of bringing the Upper and Lower Stanton communities together on a common project.

But they said they will not be accepting any new bookings until they have made a decision on how to tackle the vandalism problem.

Mr Greene said: “We can’t really expect a toddler group or birthday party to take kindly to a boarded-up building.

“There’s no point fixing them until we know who is doing it, or we’ve spent money on CCTV.

“We’re hoping the Army based at Buckley Barracks will help with something like proximity sensors.

“We’re also considering maybe even putting up a locked fence.”

He said the hall committee hoped to use funding from the parish council, which had raised the level of its council tax precept a few years ago, specifically for funding the hall.

Cara Voelcker, the chairman of the parish hall committee, said: “It has been used for village things forever.

“It is sad-looking now. I can’t think why they had to do that. Someone was trying to smash up the telephone box as well.”

Mr Greene said village residents would now work even harder to ensure the success of the hall project.

Anyone who witnesses any unusual activity or vandalism taking place around the hall is being asked to contact police in Chippenham on 101.

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