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Vandals cause £1k damage at historic Corn Exchange
VANDALS have damaged a historic part of the Witney Corn Ex-change facade, stopping it being unveiled as part of the Jubilee celebrations.
Workmen have been carrying out repairs worth £72,000 to the front of the building in Market Square as part of a huge refurbishment project.
But over the weekend, vandals climbed on to the roof and caused £1,000-worth of damage, including wrecking one of the two ball finials next to the Corn Exchange’s clock.
Witney Town Council had hoped to unveil the repaired facade so it could be a centrepiece to the town’s celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee.
But the project has now been put back by at least three weeks, deputy town clerk Claire Swan said.
As well as the damaged ball finial, which dates from 1860 and will need to be replaced, other stonework was damaged and lead on the roof pulled up. Tools and resin were also thrown about.
Ms Swan blamed vandals, while Ch Insp Colin Paine, area commander for West Oxfordshire, said police were investigating if it was an attempted theft of the lead from the roof.
Ms Swan said: “This is really disappointing news. Everything was moving forward on time and within budget.
“There has been a lot of hard work undertaken by some very dedicated people. It is just so frustrating and mindless.”
The town council closed the building in November after a report showed it had major problems with its fire escapes, stonework and heating and electrical systems.
Since then the council has worked with residents to try to reopen the building.
Public halls committee chairman Toby Morris said: “It is absolutely appalling.
“The reaction when we had to close the Corn Exchange showed how the town felt about the building.
“The vandalism is showing disregard for the town, not just the building.
“We were hoping to get the facade revealed for the Queen’s Jubilee and that now means that we are not going to be able to achieve that.”
Former user Margaret Hamm, of Witney Dramatic Society, said: “I just think it is tragic that it is going to be set back again.”
“The town council will have to spend money, which it has not got, where it could have been spent more wisely.
“It would be awful for the Jubilee celebrations if the scaffolding was still up. The building looks awful at the moment.”
The damage comes a month after the council met with residents and together created design briefs to send out to architects.
- A church in Launton, near Bicester, which has repeatedly been targeted by metal thieves, is facing the prospect of a temporary roof for two years while it tries to raise the funds to pay for a replacement. St Mary’s Church was targeted on Sunday, April 22, but three days later the thieves returned to loosen lead in what police said was a step to returning to finish the job.
Anyone with information about either incident should call police on 101 or the Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.