COMMUNITY leaders in Westbury say they refuse to be beaten after a group of drink and drug-fuelled yobs did £50,000 worth of damage to a new community hub in an orgy of destruction.

Police said they saw a group of youths in the old Westbury Youth Centre off Eden Vale Road on September 18 who ran away when approached.

And when Westbury Junior School head teacher Richard Hatt later went inside he found hooligans had left a scene of devastation in their wake.

They deliberately smashed windows and doors as they wrecked their way through the building.

Fixtures, fittings and furniture were torn to pieces, electrical cabling pulled out and were toilets broken while vile slogans were daubed on the walls.

In a rallying call to local people, Mr Hatt, who is chairman of the trustees of the Westbury Community Project, said vandals had completely destroyed much of the building’s interior.

He urged residents to fight back against a small group of yobs calling themselves the BA13 gang who he said were intent on destroying their local community.

He told the Times: “I am not going to give up. I am determined they will not beat us.

“I just think it is blind vandalism and stupidity. We will not let this small group of young men ruin the first thing we have had in Westbury for years.

“We are at the point of getting more resources from Wiltshire Council to refurbish the building and now this has put us back by six months.

“It’s likely to cost around £50,000 just to put everything right. We’ll now have to go back to the drawing board to see how it can be paid for.”

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “We are aware of ongoing issues relating to vandalism at the old youth centre in Eden Vale Road, Westbury.

Mr Hatt, 60, has spent two and a half years putting a community hub project together for the centre and has just signed a 125-lease on the building.

His aim is to convert it into a facility for various groups and organisations, including children’s services, rooms for pre-school groups, a community cafe, training rooms for Wiltshire College and University Centre and other providers.

And there will be space for Westbury Shed as well as day-time and after-school clubs.

Tina Devereux, a member of the Penleigh and Oldfield Park Community Action Network, said: “I would like to think that the youths are embarrassed and ashamed of what they have done.

“It is not a reflection of Westbury. This is not what Westbury is all about.

“There is a heart beat in this town and it is still beating and we are pumping hard to keep it going.

“This is going to be a great asset for Westbury,” she said. “Let’s all get behind the Westbury Community Project and support the team who have been working hard to get this off the ground before even more damage and vandalism is done to the building.

“This is for the community, let’s not allow a few mindless individuals ruin it. As a community, let us take ownership of this project and stand proud of what we can achieve.”

Anyone with information about the damage, including the identity of those involved, is being urged to call West Wiltshire Community Policing Team on 101.

Alternatively they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.