A CHARITY which provides a lifeline for elderly and vulnerable people faces a bill for thousands of pounds following an arson attack.

And the damage caused to Priorswood Community Centre in the attack means it will not be able to re-open as planned on July 4 following the easing of lockdown measures.

Police are investigating the incident at the Priorswood Place premises last Wednesday at about 11.15pm, when a stand offering free books to the public was set alight.

Centre manager Lesley Councill said: "We're just totally devastated at this senseless incident.

"The centre is a lifeline for so many people and this couldn't have come at a worse time.

"We've been closed for three months because of lockdown and now we've had to delay re-opening in July.

"Our centre users are just totally lost without the centre and the social side it offers.

"It's going to have an impact on their isolation and their mental health.

"And so many books were destroyed - many of them have been used by families home educating their children."

The facility, which is used by Citizens' Advice, the police and the council to offer advice to the community, welcomes an average of 1,000 visitors a months.

It appears the attacker attempted to light fires in two spots, although one failed to ignite properly.

The outside area of the building was damaged, a window was smashed and the frame of the premises has also been damaged, while a pavement had to be dug up to check on a nearby gas pipe.

The interior has been badly smoke damaged and will need to be deep cleaned and redecorated before the centre can re-open.

Police have issued CCTV images of a man they wish to speak to in connection with their investigation.

He is described as white, about 20-30 years old, slim and was wearing black ankle trainers with a white Nike logo, dark trousers and jacket. He had a grey cap on under a hood and his gait is described as unusual.

Anyone with any information should colntact police on 101 giving reference number 5220132848.