AN arsonist has appeared at court and admitted to setting fire to the “heart of the community”.

Tendring’s Community Police Team and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service launched a joint investigation into a fire at Ardleigh Village Hall, in Station Road.

The incident took place just before midnight on Tuesday, July 7.

CCTV footage near the village hall identified the fire had been started deliberately.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and the fire was quickly extinguished by the fire service, limiting the amount of damage caused to the building.

Anthony Kleingeld, 28, of Ardleigh Court was arrested and later charged with arson and breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order, which banned him from setting fires.

He appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Thursday, July 30 and pleaded guilty to both charges.

He has been remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on Friday, August 28.

Tendring Community Police Team’s Sergeant Aaron Heard said: "Buildings like the village hall are often at the heart of a community, so it was important we found the person responsible and held them accountable for their actions.

"Investigating officer PC Ryan Kent has done a fantastic job working alongside our colleagues at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to find the person responsible for this fire.

"Once the fire service had established that the fire was started deliberately, it was important that we found the person responsible and prevent the risk of further damage or harm being caused."