Crooks make off with 60 hedge plants from new church gardens

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VILLAGERS were left shocked when thieves stole newly-planted hedging from outside their new parish hall.

Sixty beech hedges were planted at the entrance to the hall in Westbourne – and they lasted less than a week before being ripped out by thieves under the cover of darkness.

It is the latest incident to blight the refurbishment of the parish hall in Westbourne Road.

Last year the church was left counting the cost after copper pipes and wiring were ripped out, and an expensive disc cutter was stolen.

Within the first few weeks of January, the church roof was also targeted by thieves, who failed in their attempts to get away with lead lining.

Churchwarden Andrew Turner noticed the hedges had gone missing on Tuesday at 7am when he walked past with his dogs.

He said: ‘I don’t think it’s vandalism. They have been pulled up and will presumably get sold at a car boot sale somewhere.

‘It’s a bit devastating really. Although the plants themselves are not very expensive at £1 each, there has been a lot of time and effort in planting them.

‘The hall is pretty much finished – we had the tarmac laid last week, and all the parking has been laid out.

‘Everyone was saying how lovely it looked. It’s just such an indictment of the society we live in really.’

He said they might now be forced to invest in CCTV to deter anybody causing further damage.

He added: ‘It’s been a huge community effort.

‘The whole village has been behind it – it’s a church hall, but it’s for the whole community.’

The thefts happened overnight between Monday and Tuesday. Anyone with any information should call police on 0845 60 70 99.