A FESTIVE nativity scene has had to be taken down early by Hyndburn Council after being vandalised by New Year's Eve revellers.
Oswaldtwistle's tableau, set in a shed on the pavement outside the Co-op in Union Road, was trashed in the early hours of New Year's Day by hooligans who smashed the figurines and ripped off the roof.
Hyndburn Council leader and Oswaldtwistle Area Council chairman Councillor Peter Britcliffe, said he was "absolutely appalled and disgusted" by the damage and was disappointed the scene had had to be removed over a week early.
He said: "The crib was vandalised and trashed by revellers and has now been removed by the council. They tried to force open the door and when they couldn't get in they smashed the glass and pulled off the roof.
"The nativity scene is loved by many people in the town and everyone is appalled by what has happened and will be as disgusted as I am.
"I'm sure the damage was caused by a mindless minority and I would urge anyone who knows who did this to contact the police."
Inspector Terry Woods, of Accrington Police said a local resident had reported the damage and the police had then informed Hyndburn Council.
He added: "We are currently creating a crime report and will be tracking CCTV footage. I would urge anyone with information to call us on 51212."
- THE nativity scene, which depicted baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, a donkey and four other figurines, sparked controversy when it was unveiled during the town's Christmas lights switch-on in December.
Children visiting the scene questioned whether there were four wise men or three wise men and just one shepherd as the figures looked almost identical.
Councillor Britcliffe added: "No-one has complained about the four figures looking similar. I think people have seen the funny side and have been more offended by the vandalism.
"The reason there weren't more shepherds is that we were limited by the size of the shed and it was a case of no room at the inn.
"Fortunately there is money put aside for damage and we will hope to replace the smashed figures for next year and perhaps create space for more shepherds."