Vandals target multi-million pound Passmore Edwards Centre

The Passmore Edwards CentreThe Passmore Edwards Centre

Posted on: 16 October 2012

Devon County Council’s new £ 2.8m Passmore Edwards Centre in Newton Abbot was unable to open on Monday morning thanks to the actions of a mindless vandal.

The Centre, which has only been open for 4 months, was flooded over the weekend when someone deliberate blocked two sinks in one of the public toilets on the first floor.

Staff at the Centre arrived at 8.30am to find the ground floor and first floor under water after taps had been purposely left running since Saturday afternoon.

The landmark town centre building has recently undergone extensive redevelopment to turn it into a new multi-service facility that houses a modern 21st century library, adult and community learning facility, and services that are supporting people with learning disabilities, as well as an IT suite, WIFI technology, café and meeting rooms available for local groups to use. Residents have been making good use of their new facility since it reopened in June, with over 17,000 people a week visiting to borrow books, enjoy the café or learn something new.

The clean up operation is underway, with large fans bought in to help dry out the affected areas as quickly as possible. The cost of the clear up is unknown as the extent of the damage will need to be assessed over the coming weeks, but is expected to be in the thousands. Much of the water seems to have run behind walls or under floors, so checking the safety of the electrical equipment is a priority along with monitoring and cracks and splits which may appear.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Communities, has expressed his disgust at the vandalism. He said:

“I am absolutely appalled that such a valuable community resource has been the target of wanton vandalism. 

“The redevelopment project was a real partnership with the community, who worked hard to help us at every stage, and I’m sure everyone will be equally disappointed that somebody could behave this way and deliberately cause such damage.

“We have invested a great deal to ensure that residents in Newton Abbot and the surrounding areas have better access to information, learning and culture for the future, so the fact that anyone would try and destroy this excellent facility for generations to come is intolerable.

“The cost of the damage caused by the flooding is money we can ill afford to spend, and I’m sure everyone would agree that any money in the budget would be put to better use buying resources, or running activities to benefit the whole community rather than having to clear up after just one person’s irresponsible actions.

“The Police have been informed, and we are checking our cctv cameras for any clues as to who did this. Rest assured we will make sure all necessary action is taken to protect our facilities so residents can continue to enjoy them without fear of them being destroyed by such vandals.

“Meanwhile we are working to get the Centre fully back up and running as soon as possible, but unfortunately there will be some disruption whilst repair works are underway as it may be necessary to close the centre or parts of it.

“I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding.”

Cllr Anne Fry, Devon County Council’s Local Member for Newton Abbot North, said:

“Local residents have been delighted with the refurbished Passmore Edwards Centre and  have much enjoyed using the new facilities on offer.  To have it now damaged by vandals  in such a way is very disappointing and the whole town will be hoping that those responsible will soon be identified and held to account for their actions”

Cllr Gordon Hook, Devon County Council’s Local Member for Newton Abbot South, said:

“This is a truly scandalous act, and I hope that the perpetrator is brought to justice. I would welcome the heavy hand of the law being brought to bear as this single deliberate act has a huge financial cost and caused many people considerable inconvenience.

The new facility has been warmly welcomed by the local community. It is a great addition to Newton Abbots ever improving list of facilities and for this to happen is outrageous; I am very cross and disappointed, but thank all those who have contributed to clearing up the mess and re opening the centre as soon as humanly possible.”

The Passmore Edwards Centre was able to reopen today (Tuesday 16 October), with limited access to the services located on the ground floor. Water is still dripping from the ceiling of the ground floor foyer where it has collected in the void below the first floor above, so visitors are being redirected to the Centre’s side entrance by the Children’s Library.

The library is only able to offer basic issue and return as staff only have limited access to computer equipment. There is also only the one self service machine by the children’s library entrance in operation, as the power supply to the others in the main foyer has been damaged by the water. The ground floor IT suite is closed, but public access PCs on the first floor are available.

The Centre’s IT and telephone systems have been affected, so people will find it difficult to call or email for information. Residents can call Devon County Council’s customer service centre on 0845 155 1001 or log on the Passmore Edwards Centre website.

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