RESIDENTS who campaigned to save one of Barry’s most-loved sites have spoken of their horror after the last stage in its regeneration went up in flames.

Save Cemetery Approach Action Group (SCAAG) campaigners and Barry councillors expressed anger after a nearly completed community building was burned down on Tuesday, September 10.

The joint Vale council and Barry Town council scheme to construct the hall came a decade after the land was saved from housing association development in 2008.

Eyewitness and SCAAG committee member, Gareth Jones, 78, of Slade Road, said: “I was on my way home from and I paused to have a look to see how much has been done. I saw two boys come out from there and run up the road. I noticed a red glow which in seconds was like an inferno. It was frightening. “You could hear the fire from our home. I felt devastated, Ten years ago we campaigned to save Cemetery Approach and we were at the end part when we were going to have a community hall.”

Wife Kay, 75, said: “I felt upset and disappointed. It was going to have a happy use as a community hall for local people.”

Brenda Heathfield, 77, of Slade Road, said: “It’s just terrible to see. I just couldn’t believe my eyes to see it burned down – after all that had been done, it’s such a shame.”

Fellow SCAAG member Nick Lanagan, 69, of Cornwall Rise, added: “It was just what I expected to happen – that there would be vandalism.”

Friends of Merthyr Dyfan Cemetery chairman, Cllr, Nic Hodges said: I’m angry and disappointed this has happened. The community hall was near completion before the fire. It’s now been demolished. I hope people realise this hall is for them to use, it’s for the community. Let’s hope the replacement gets built without a hitch.”

Barry Town Council halls, cemeteries and community facilities committee, Cllr Ian Johnson added: “This is a community centre which will be used by people of all ages in Barry, right outside our historical town cemetery. I don’t understand why anybody would want to damage a building that is only there to help the people of our town.”

A Vale council spokesman said: “The contractor’s insurance company has been assessing the damage. Once this procedure is complete, discussions will take place regarding recommencing construction.”

A South Wales Police spokeswoman said two teenagers arrested on suspicion of arson had been released under investigation. Anyone with any information can call 101 quoting reference 1900334909 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.