LOCALS have expressed their anger and concern after arsonists set fire to a picnic table outside their village hall, while an event was taking place inside.

Members of the film club were watching a horror film at Allendale Village Hall on Monday last week when smoke started to enter the room.

They went outside into the recreation ground and found a pile of warm ashes under the balcony, where the table was normally located.

The table was found on Tuesday morning by the nearby skatepark with a large burn hole through the top. CCTV was examined and two people could be seen carrying the table, on fire, away from the hall.

Chairwoman of Allendale Village Hall, Catherine Stirling Hill, said the trustees were annoyed that a potential risk to life had happened in their park.

“This could have been a very serious incident, resulting in bodily harm, to both perpetrators and to those inside our hall, as well as significant damage to the fabric of the building,” she said.

“These are substantial tables which could not ignite casually or by accident – and also cost a lot of money. We are taking every step to discover what happened and to recover the cost.”

Mrs Stirling Hill said the trustees were particularly concerned because arson was a rare occurrence in the village.

She added: “We are not seeking to blame any particular group or individual for this incident, and recognise that nearly all residents and visitors to Allendale are sensible and responsible, and respect the village and community they live in. We ask everyone to be vigilant and to communicate any concerns they may have to the trustees.”

The incident is believed to have taken place between 7.30pm and 9.30pm on Monday, October 29.

Police inquiries are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting log 207 of the 29/10/19.