Watton Sports Centre hits out at “mindless” attack

Watton Sports Centre has been hit by fire for the second time in eight months. Pictured is centre ma

Watton Sports Centre has been hit by fire for the second time in eight months. Pictured is centre manager Lisa Savage. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A sports centre has condemned the actions of 'mindless individuals' after it was hit by fire for the second time in eight months.

Firefighters were called to Watton Sports Centre, on Dereham Road, at around 11.40pm on Friday to reports the spectators stands were ablaze. Crews from Watton and Hingham helped tackle the fire, which took around 40 minutes to put out.

Centre manager Lisa Savage said the incident was 'very upsetting'.

'It really is ridiculous. We open up to the community, try to make young people welcome, and they have used it a lot of Easter, and this is the thanks we get,' she said.

Alec Painton, the sports centre's hospitality manager, said: 'It is really disappointing. It's a fantastic facility for the area and it seems there are some people out there who want to ruin it for everyone.

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'We're trying to build it up to offer more things and a few mindless individuals are going out to spoil it.'

Mr Painton was on duty on Friday night and left the main centre building at 11.40pm, and was the one who alerted the fire service.

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At the end of August last year thousands of pounds of damage was done to the stands when a fire gutted part of the wooden structure.

Ms Savage believed the damage was 'worse than last time'. The back panels of the shed have been destroyed, and part of the roof which contains asbestos was also badly damaged, but staff have been unable to remove it because of the recent bad weather.

'There was no accelerant used last time and it seemed the fire had been smouldering before it caught, whereas this time it seems to have taken pretty fast. I don't know if accelerant was used yet as I haven't spoken with the fire service,' she said.

Mr Painton added: 'The stand was in a poor state after the last fire, and now it is even worse.'

A number of clubs use the centre's facilities including Watton United FC and Watton Hockey and Rugby Clubs.

A spokesman for the football club said: 'It is a nightmare. You try to produce a facility for the local community, and then something like this happens.'

A police spokesman said the fire is believed to have been started deliberately.

Anyone with information about the incident on April 8 is asked to contact Norfolk Police on 101.

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