POLICE say they will continue to undertake patrols of churches in Newtown – but have warned to owners that it is up to them to ensure security and safety measures are in place.

Residents reported hearing a loud bang as the roof of the Bethel Chapel in New Road collapsed just before 11am on September 27 last year, since when the building has been demolished.

The main road past the chapel remained closed for a significant amount of time as plans were put in place to clear debris while a long-term plan for the future was considered – the building has stood since 1875 but has deteriorated into a poor state of repair since being sold in 2008; the last service there was held in 2006.

And Dyfed Powys Police Chief Inspector Jacqui Lovatt has said that although the force is monitoring public access to the former chapel site - and other churches in Newtown - it is not in a position to patrol 24 hours a day.

Chief Insp Lovatt said the same issue applied to other religious buildings in Newtown that have been affected by vandalism in recent weeks and months, including St David’s Church, also on New Road, and Crescent Presbyterian Chapel, also known as the Crescent Christian Centre, in Milford Road.

Both have been targeted by vandals in April and May, with window panes smashed.

“We are aware of it and taking patrols whenever possible, but the responsibility does fall on property owners to ensure there is signage and security measures in place to prevent members of the public gaining access to the building and immediate area,” said Chief Insp Lovatt.

“We are aware of it and where we can we will undertake patrols but we’re not in a position to patrol those buildings 24/7.

“Owners have been provided with crime prevention advice to ensure appropriate signage is displayed, helping to prevent the public from entering the area, and to look towards implementing security measures.”

The Bethel Chapel roof collapsed just three weeks after Newtown Town Council asked for action to be taken so it would not pose a risk to the public.

Internal water damage has caused a number of the wooden floorboards to disintegrate throughout the building over the years, and a section of the upper balcony has collapsed under its own weight since a number of slates have fallen off the roof causing the roof above to decay rapidly.