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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 May, 2005, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
Vandals destroy Buddhist temple
The Buddhist community will be without a temple by next month
Arson and vandalism have forced a group of Buddhists to give up a project to convert a derelict house into a temple.

An old school caretaker's house in Colyer Road, Northfleet, Kent was handed over to the Buddhists last year.

Repairs to the building have been hampered by relentless attacks. Last week a monk was stoned in what the group has said was "the final straw".

"I'd hate to believe it is because we are Buddhists," said spokesman Harry Smith. "It is just wanton destruction."

They have destroyed the dreams of 300 people
Harry Smith

Mr Smith, chairman of the Varnaran Buddhist Association, said the house, which has suffered two arson attacks, had been reduced to a shell and he believed it would have to be demolished.

The group spent 3,000 trying to secure the property with a fence but that did not stop the vandals.

Kent County Council made the building secure but intruders removed cladding from the back and got in that way.

Mr Smith said: "They were determined to destroy the house and that is what they have done.

"But they have not just destroyed the house, they have destroyed the dreams of 300 people."

Another house

The Buddhist community in Kent, Essex and East Sussex includes people from Thailand, Sri Lanka and Cambodia as well as Britons.

They are currently meeting at another house in Northfleet which they have to vacate at the end of the month, when they will be homeless.

"It is not just about a building - it is about community," said Mr Smith.

"The temple is a focal point where we can go to meditate and teach the children."


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