Vandals ‘targeting wonderful asset’

By A Reporter   |   IOM Reporter   |
Wednesday 4th May 2022 6:00 am
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Watchet’s free book exchange
Watchet’s free book exchange (Terry Walker )

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POLICE are appealing for information after a small fire, thought to have been deliberate, was started on Tuesday at one of Watchet’s most novel tourist attractions - a redundant bus shelter on the town’s main street which has been turned into a popular free book exchange.

Funded by the National Lottery and organised by the Coastal Communities team, the Book Stop - complete with shelves of books and cushions on the seats - was created three years ago after the shelter was superseded by one in Harbour Road.

Since then, despite occasional instances of antisocial behaviour, the Book Stop has become a popular stop-off point for residents and visitors to exchange books or relax in the cosy shelter and watch the world go by.

Fiona Payne, of the Watchet Visitors’ centre, who supervises the book store, said: “Initially, the book stop contained only one book case, but very quickly we had to add a second bookcase because of the volume of books being exchanged.

“A huge number of holidaymakers and tourists use the book stop and are always amazed to find that no donation is required. Local children can often be seen exchanging books during the school holidays and I have had families with children on holiday expressing their gratitude.

Fiona added: “Unfortunately there have been a number of incidents over the three years where anti-social behaviour in relation to the books has happened.

“Recently we have had a number of issues in short succession and it looks like a small number of individuals are targeting this wonderful asset.

“However these incidents have been few and far between and I think the advantages of having free reading material far out weight the small number of incidents.

“This latest incident caused no damage to the Book Stop or to the books on the shelves.”

An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: “It is not believed that much damage was caused but if anyone witnessed or has information about the incident, would they please call 101.”

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