A FIRE which engulfed an under-construction community building in Cemetery Approach, Barry, is being treated as arson

Crews from Barry, Penarth and Ely fire station attended the scene, opposite Merthyr Dyfan Cemetery, and extinguished the flames following reports of a blaze in St Teilo Avenue, in Barry, at approximately 11pm.

A South Wales Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “At this time, our supposed cause would be deliberate.

“The incident concluded at approximately 11.36pm.

“And, at approximately 6.06am on Wednesday, September 11, we received reports of a fire on Cemetery Road in Barry.

“Crews from Barry station attended the scene and extinguished the fire.

“The incident concluded at approximately 6.21am.”

The hall, the latest stage of redevelopment work at Cemetery Approach, has been jointly funded by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Barry Town Council.

Cemetery Approach Gardens were opened in 2017 following work to transform the area into an accessible open space for the community to enjoy by introducing new landscaping, fencing, seating, planting and paving.

The most recent work aims to create a building for the local community that includes a multipurpose space, kitchen area, toilets and room for storage.

Contractors Willis Construction Limited arrived on site in July to start laying foundations for the structure, which will be managed by Barry Town Council once completed.

Barry Town mayor, Cllr Margaret Wilkinson, when announcing the impending work, said: “This community building will contribute to the Town council’s initiatives for community development in the area and will be the ‘icing on the cake’ sitting adjacent to the beautiful park already in place.”

FocusBARRY supporter and Save Cemetery Approach campaigner, Dennis Harkus said: ““The Save Cemetery Approach Action Group, together with the Barry and neighbouring communities fought a long battle to save this much-loved open space from a high-density development.

“A hand collected petition of 11,500 people peacefully protested to save this space and Barry Town Council, who were also supportive, conducted a consultation exercise to find out what people wanted.

“Many asked for this community room and were pleased to watch the process of it being built and anticipating the opening.

“How sad it is to see this vandalism.

“I and many other people will feel terribly upset about this terrible act.”

Vale council head of neighbourhood services and transport, Emma Reed said: “There was a significant fire at the nearly-complete community building under construction at Cemetery Approach, which caused serious damage and is believed to have been an arson attack.

“Unfortunately, this is the second such incident in little over a week and is obviously hugely disappointing.

“The building is designed to be used by the local community, housing a multipurpose space, kitchen area, toilets and room for storage, which makes this deliberate damage all the more senseless.”

Barry Town Council leader, Cllr Bronwen Brooks said: "I am devastated to see the total destruction caused by this senseless and dangerous act on the partly finished community building, which was well into the final phase of construction as part of the joint Cemetery Approach project between Barry Town Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Council, and for use by the people of Barry.

“I would also like to give my thanks to the emergency services who attended the scene overnight to extinguish the fire and make the area safe for residents."

Barry Town Council, Plaid opposition leader, Cllr Shirley Hodges added: "I'm disappointed, yet again.

“A few people out there are hell bent on wrecking this town.

“I urge anyone with information to go to the police before someone gets hurt."

A South Wales Police spokeswoman confirmed police officers were investigating.

She said: “Two 14-year-old boys have been arrested on suspicion of arson and are in police custody.”

Case officer, PC Gareth Owens added: “This was a serious incident which has caused significant damage at the construction site.

“While we have people in custody, enquiries are still very much ongoing and I would appeal to anyone who believes they have information which could assist the investigation, to come forward.

“I would like to hear from a member of the public who stopped their vehicle to tell an officer they had seen two males tampering with a fire hydrant.”

Anyone with any information can call 101 quoting reference 1900334909 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.