RESIDENTS in North Petherton are furious with vandals who started a fire in the town’s public toilets and forced them to close.

The incident happened in the daytime on Saturday, July 12, when the unknown vandals started the fire in the gents’ toilet in Fore Street, resulting in North Petherton Community Centre, which owns the rights to the building, having to close the toilets while an insurance claim is made and estimates for repairs are obtained.

Jean Turner, community centre treasurer, said: “We’ve had ongoing problems with the toilets, including emptied soap dispensers and other fires, but this is the worse fire incident I’ve seen.”

She believes youths may have been responsible for the attack.

She said: “We’ve had youth clubs with varied types of success, but there are a few who always seem to cause trouble in the area.

“It happened at some point during the day – they normally lock the doors at around 7pm, so you’d think someone would have seen something.

“The incident has been reported to the police. It’s so pointless, It’s there as a facility and people rely on being able to use it.”

The toilets were previously owned by Sedgemoor District Council, but it closed them before the community centre took over ownership and re-opened them.

Cllr Bill Revans, of North Petherton Town Council, said: “We’re obviously disappointed that the male toilets have been vandalised.

“The incident has been reported to the police and an insurance claim has been made, so we’re unsure when the toilets will be open again.”

A police spokesman said: “An investigation has begun and we’re treating it as suspected arson.

“We urge anyone who was in the area at the time to call 101 and quote crime reference number 70887/14.”