A COUNCILLOR has hit out at thieves who stole paving stones from a church.

Cllr Marilyn Proctor was angry after CCTV footage shows five flags were taken from the churchyard of St James' Church on Church Street in Haslingden at 1.30am on September 10.

She said: "I am shocked someone would do something like that.

"It does not matter where they are coming from but to go to a church yard and they had obviously planned what they were taking and then take it is terrible.

"They are just the lowest of the low to steal from a church."

Vicar Dave Stephenson insists he was 'very sad' about the news and posted on Facebook to raise awareness of the thefts in the area.

Father Stephenson said: "We are a community building and space - the churchyard is used by many people each day for walking their dogs, having a stroll, or on their route to and from the town centre.

"Unfortunately, the theft means that we now have a serious trip hazard which we'll have to try to cordon off so that members of the public using the footpath don't injure themselves.

"The churchyard is maintained by Rossendale Borough Council and we have already been in contact with them about having the paving replaced.

"Fortunately we have very good CCTV around the whole church building so we hope that footage from it will help the police to trace our stolen paving and maybe even have it returned.

Fr Stephenson added that he has been amazed by the response by local people.

He said: "Thanks to social media we've had a huge amount of support and concern from members of the community.

"It's good to know that folk still look out for each other and that they value what the church and churchyard stands for. We're here for everyone."

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: "Some time overnight on September 10, an unknown offender has approached the church yard and dug up a number of stones and then took them from the scene.

"We are appealing for anyone with information to get in touch with us quoting the reference number EF1814087."