Community leaders’ anger over seafront blaze which will cost taxpayers £10k
PUBLISHED: 05:20 15 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:28 15 October 2020
Community leaders have condemned the behaviour of vandals who caused £10,000 damage to a historic seafront building as “completely unacceptable”.
Firefighters were called after two bins were set alight at the newly-refurbished Victorian shelter in the promenade gardens in Sea Road at Felixstowe.
Police have confirmed the fire was started deliberately and have appealed for witnesses to help catch the arsonists.
Having investigated the damage, East Suffolk Council has confirmed it will cost in excess of £10,000 to repair the shelter, which was only recently restored in a £150,000 project as part of the council’s ongoing investment in the south seafront area.
Steve Gallant, leader of East Suffolk Council and also a local ward councillor, said: “This appears to be a deliberate act of vandalism which is completely unacceptable and puts unnecessary pressure on our fire service at what is already a difficult time.
“The shelter was only recently restored to its former glory, meaning it could once again be enjoyed by local people and visitors alike. I have no doubt that they will be just as disappointed as me by this meaningless act.
“I want to make it very clear that this was not a victimless act – public money and time was spent on the restoration and will need to be spent on the repairs. That is the taxpayer’s money which could be spent elsewhere so it has an impact on everyone, especially at a time when services are already being stretched due to Covid-19.
“We are determined to clamp down on this type of anti-social behaviour and would urge anyone with any information to contact the police so that investigations into the act can lead to the necessary action being taken.”
Mayor of Felixstowe Mark Jepson also expressed his frustration. He said: “We are fortunate to live in such a safe, clean and attractive place as Felixstowe so, like everybody I am shocked, saddened and frustrated by this wilful damage to one of our iconic seafront shelters.
“Vandalism and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and I have been in discussion with the police, who are taking the matter very seriously and currently investigating this as an arson incident.
“Whilst I am reassured that East Suffolk Council will be taking swift action to repair the shelter, it is also the responsibility of all of us to help keep our lovely town safe and report antisocial behaviour (ASB), wherever it occurs.
“Please do not hesitate to contact the Police via 999 when ASB is happening, giving detailed descriptions of those involved, locations, any vehicle indexes and direction of travel wherever possible”
Police are encouraging anyone who may have information about the damage to the shelter on Sea Road, Felixstowe, which occurred between 11pm and 11.45pm on October 9 to contact them via 101 quoting incident ref. 37/58923/20. People can also call call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Officers have carried out a number of enquiries and are in the process of reviewing CCTV footage as the arson investigation continues.
The Victorian and Edwardian shelters between Bath Tap and the end of the Sea Road have been a part of the seafront for more than a century, providing places for people to picnic, sit and relax on sunny days or shelter from inclement weather and watch the sea.