A CHILDREN’s centre has had to close for the foreseeable future after it was damaged in a “mindless” arson attack.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed firefighters were called to Baildon Children’s Centre, in West Lane at 2.17am on Thursday.

A spokesperson said: “There were two fires set deliberately, one to a storage shelter and one in the playground. The storage shelter spread to the building and damaged the roof.”

A photo seen by the T&A shows significant damage to the side of the building which was also scorched.

Four fire engines attended – one from Bingley, one from Shipley and two from Bradford fire station – as well as a Fire Investigation Officer.

Police were also called to the scene by the fire service at 3.45am.

The centre is part of the Airedale and Wharfedale Children’s Centre Cluster providing a number of vital services such as antenatal and postnatal classes, early education and daycare, and baby clubs.

It made an announcement earlier on Facebook stating that no groups would be running there for the next few weeks due to safety concerns.

The post said: “We are very sad to tell you that last night there was a fire at Baildon Children’s Centre. There will be no groups running from there for the next few weeks due to health and safety.

“You are welcome to attend the Play and Learn session at any of our other Centres.”

Shipley MP Philip Davies said he hoped any perpetrators were found quickly and punished properly by the courts.

He said: “That’s deeply disturbing, Lord knows what on earth motivates someone to set fire to a children’s centre. It beggars belief.

“I hope police can identify the culprits and bring them to justice.”

He added: “It’s horrific for the people who work there and parents who rely on it.

“It’s going to have a massive impact on them, and I hope it can open safe and quick and proper.”

Gaynor Rowe, 44, who lives just off West Lane next to the centre, said she thought the fact that someone wanted to set the building on fire purposely was distressing and incomprehensible.

She said: “It is absolutely appalling that anyone would deliberately set any building on fire, let alone a children’s centre. It is a really important and integral meeting place for many members of the community with children.

“It is used to benefit the local community and offers a support network to anyone who needs it not to mention the various after school and holiday activities that are held there.”

Councillor Debbie Davis (Con, Baildon) has a four-year-old and has used the centre herself for sessions such as baby massage.

She said: “The perpetrators should take a bit of responsibility, are they just trying to get a quick buzz? It’s inconsiderate and it’s going to cost a lot of time, money and heartache.”

She also said the neighbouring school, Sandal Primary, often used the centre for the Funtastik before and after-school club.

Shipley MP Mr Davies said he wasn’t sure what extra measures could be put in place to prevent arson but hoped experts could look to see if any lessons could be taken from the incident.

He said: “At the end of the day of people are determined to cause mindless damage then it is difficult to stop.

“My message would be that whoever they are, they are mindless thugs in my view and I very much hope the police identify them, bring them to justice and that the courts impose a substantial prison sentence.

“Whoever the arsonists are, the only place for them is behind bars.”

Bradford Council, which runs the Baildon Children’s Centre, said: “This was a terrible incident at a centre that is used by families from the local community.”

Council officers were at the scene on Thursday morning to make sure the building was safe and will return on Friday to further assess the damage.

A spokesperson said: “We will work closely with our partners to support the families who used the centre.”

Police confirmed an investigation is underway into arson. Inquiries are ongoing and anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or use the web chat facility on the force website.