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Arson attack on toilet at St James the Great church in East Malling

By Claire McWethy

A church in East Malling has been left without a loo after a suspected arson attack.

The portable toilet in the grounds of St James the Great was reduced to a mass of molten plastic following a fire, which is thought to have happened sometime after the Sunday service.

The aftermath was discovered by a member of the congregation, who had been out running.

St James the Great Church

St James the Great Church

Nick Williams, vicar at St James the Great, said it would cause problems for parishioners, and may deter some from coming to church altogether.

He said: "We are in the process of trying to get a toilet installed inside the church but at the moment we rely on the portable loo in the churchyard.

"We have mums and toddlers groups on a Wednesday and it will mean having to change nappies on the church floor.

"It may well make some people, such as the elderly, diabetics and pregnant women, think twice about coming to church so it limits the opportunities we have to engage with the community.

Rev Nick Williams

Rev Nick Williams

"It appears to be wanton vandalism. We are far from a wealthy church, we are already scraping the barrel to pay parish tariffs so this will affect us."

It is not the first time the church has been targetted by criminals. At Easter Father Williams chased a thief who made off with a collection tin.

He added: "I'm not sure what anyone has got against the church, we go out of our way to be a part of the community."

Police say they are investigating the fire, which happened in Church Walk between 12pm on Sunday and 7pm yesterday.

Anyone with information should call 01622 604100 quoting crime reference YY/20703/17. Alternatively contact Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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