Eye Town Hall 'historic' paintings vandalised
Four "historically important" paintings have been slashed after a town hall was broken into over the Easter weekend.
Vandals struck at Eye in Suffolk, breaking into the town hall chamber and cutting the oil paintings on Sunday night or Monday morning.
The 19th Century pictures included a former mayor, and General Sir Edward Kerrison, who served as an MP for Eye and funded the building of the hall.
The council said it hoped the paintings could be restored by local experts.
Nothing else was damaged other than internal doors which were forced open, councillor Peter Gold said.
The damage to the paintings was "significant", he said.
"These important historic pictures, particularly two of Sir Edward Kerrison who actually funded the building of this town hall, and of Samuel Peck, former mayor of Eye - they've not just been slashed - they've actually been torn and ripped and a lot of the surface destroyed," he said.
"These paintings are hugely significant for the town and people are really upset."
Residents have reacted angrily to the break-in on BBC Radio Suffolk - describing those who did it as "low-life scumbags", "idiots" and "mindless thugs".
One woman said she was both "terribly sad and furious".
Eye Town Council is part-way through a £170,000 refurbishment programme on the building including work on the roof, new lighting and accessible toilets.
Despite the damage, a spokesman said an event to showcase the renovations, planned for Wednesday, would still go ahead.
A Suffolk Police forensics officer examined the scene on Monday and the council is hoping CCTV from nearby businesses will reveal how the building was entered.
The force said it was seeking information about a male, wearing baggy trousers and a coat with a florescent logo, who was captured on CCTV on the front steps of the town hall at 22:20 BST and seen leaving the area at 22:45 BST on Sunday.