Thursday, May 24, 2012
Yesterday morning Cleveland Police confirmed that the fire at Orchard shops was caused deliberately and the focus of investigation has now shifted to finding the culprit. Ward councillors and the local MP, James Wharton, have worked together on the impact of the fire since Saturday morning and yesterday James issued a media release on behalf of us all. The text is reproduced below:
Arson Suspected, Community Calls on witnesses to inform police
Joint Press Release from Local Councillors and MP
The fire at the Orchard Shopping Parade in Eaglescliffe early Saturday morning may have been caused by arson, Police suspect.
The site was visited on Saturday by James Wharton MP along with local Conservative Councillor Phil Dennis and Liberal Democrat Councillor Maureen Rigg.
The local Councillors and MP have now released a joint statement and called for any witnesses to come forward:
“This has been a huge blow to our community, with people’s jobs and local independent businesses put at risk. Along with Phil and Maureen I was on site on Saturday and I spoke to the landlords then, we all hope the shopping parade will be rebuilt but in the meantime whoever did this, especially if it was a deliberate act, must be brought to justice.”
Cllr Rigg said:
"This makes it even worse - the thought that someone could wilfully endanger the lives of those in the flats and the livelihood of dozens of people is too horrific to contemplate. Alan Lewis and I will work with Phil Dennis and James Wharton to get the shops back into use as fast as possible and to encourage anyone with any information that might help the police to come forward quickly."
Cllr Dennis said:
“We are working together to keep the community updated and will be doing everything we can to see the shopping parade rebuilt. If anyone saw anything they should certainly come forward, this could easily have put lives at risk and the damage to independent businesses and their employees has been huge.”