Councillors condemn delay in Bognor arson clean-up

Photo of the soot in the communal hall, shared with the Observer
Photo of the soot in the communal hall, shared with the Observer

Councillors have condemned the delay in repairs to a block of flats after it was damaged by a ‘deliberate fire’.

Three fire engines attended the fire in Steyne Street on Tuesday, July 31 where a fire had been reported in the lobby.

Photo of the soot in the communal hall, shared with the Observer

Photo of the soot in the communal hall, shared with the Observer

Speaking at the time, a West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said six people were rescued using ladders, while firefighters using breathing apparatus tackled the fire, which had ‘led to smoke logging in the flats’.

Councillor for Marine ward, Matt Stanley (Lib Dem), said he was shocked to see the state of the council property, nearly two weeks after the fire had taken place.

He said: "Looking at it you could be forgiven for thinking the fire only happened yesterday, not two weeks ago.

"Ten children live in the block, all six years of age or younger.

"The communal area is covered in soot and the internal stairwell lights are faulty.

"One of the residents said past 9pm you can’t see to walk up the stairs.

"Some children in the block are so scared since the fire, they worry about returning to their homes."

He added that some residents had told him the external door is broken.

He added: "Arun District Council really have to get their priorities in order. The Conservative party needs to stop spending all its efforts forcing though poorly thought-out and overpriced redevelopment schemes. They need to start investing their time and energy into ensuring that council tenants have safe, secure homes."

District councillor Francis Oppler (Lib Dem) said: "A week on and the council had still not cleaned it. We are battling to get remedial works done. It should have been cleaned a couple of days after."

When approached for comment, Arun District Council confirmed the fire was arson and said: "No damage was caused to individual residents during the incident, however the hallway has soot damage and the door entry system and communal lighting will need to be replaced.

"Safety of our residents is of paramount importance and although it has taken longer than anticipated due to the specialist nature of the work required, work is now underway and due to be completed at the end of this week.

"All residents have been written to in order to keep them informed of planned works and progress."

Police have said they are still investigating the fire and are appealing for witnesses.

Anyone with information should contact police online www.sussex.police.uk/contact-us/response-to-appeal

READ MORE: Ladder rescue from fire at three-storey building in Bognor