Arson attack at Coseley park caused £500k worth of damage
Arsonists have caused £500,000 worth of damage after setting fire to a maintenance building at a popular Coseley park.
A large tractor, van and several mowers were left damaged in the fire at Silver Jubilee Park on Thursday night.
A police investigation has been launched – and officers believe the fire was started when pallets and a wheelie bin were set alight near to the maintenance building, which is used by Dudley Council.
Council workers and residents say anti-social-behaviour is a ongoing issue in the area.
Matt Williams, chief executive of Dudley Council's environmental services, said: "We estimate the financial cost of the damage is the best part of £500,000 in order to put this right.
"This fire means disruption for staff who work in environmental services - that is our major concern.
"We have invested a lot in this park over the years and the consequences here are significant."
Dave Astley, a manager in environmental services, said: "We are lucky we have got spares [of machinery] otherwise we would have been out of operation for months."
The blaze damaged the structure itself alongside the expensive machinery used to maintain the borough's parks.
Dramatic photos from the scene this morning show vehicles and tools burnt out in the building.
No one was injured in the fire. Half of the car park has been closed off for safety reasons.
Alan Lunt, deputy chief executive and strategic director for place at Dudley Council, added: "Last night we were advised of a fire at our green care depot building at Silver Jubilee Park.
"The fire has caused significant damage to both the building and its contents but fortunately no one was hurt.
“We have secured the area to ensure safety of park visitors and are supporting the fire service and police with their ongoing investigations.”
A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: "We were called to a severe fire in a single-storey brick building. It is a grounds maintenance building used by Dudley Council.
"All the electrics at the site were isolated. We had four firefighters using breathing apparatus, and we used a main jet and hose reels to tackle the fire.
"We went back at 6.30am this morning to make sure it was ok. We checked there were no hotspots in the building using a thermal imaging camera.
"We are investigating the cause of the fire."
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Police are investigating reports of arson at Silver Jubilee Park, Mason Street, Dudley, at around 9pm last night.
"It is believed offenders set fire to a wheelie bin and pallets, causing damage to an outbuilding.
"Investigations are ongoing and anyone with information can contact us."
Crews from Dudley, Tipton and Bilston fire stations attended the scene.
Residents who live near to Silver Jubilee Park said there have "endless problems". While a spokesman for the Coseley Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page said that quite a few small fires and anti-social behaviour reported over the last six months.
Elizabeth Moore, who lives near the entrance of the park, said: "We have had endless problems which have been getting steadily worse. The salon next door was set on fire during renovations last year.
"Our bins are continuously stolen. They have literally torn our fence apart and in November last year they were throwing stones and sticks at the house resulting in the back conservatory window being smashed completely.
"Continuously setting fire to bins, rubbish, park property and vandalising whatever they can. As well as that we have had verbal abuse hurled at us.
"As much as I feel a community patrol and watch is needed I also feel that they need something to occupy them. There is nothing for them to do around here of an evening and I am not excusing their behaviour but sometimes a little guidance goes a lot further than punishment in these cases. A youth centre might be a good idea."
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Living near to the park is a disaster. It is horrible. If they set fire to that building, then what next? I have had fireworks through my letterbox before."
In 2017 and 2018, Silver Jubilee Park received the Green Flag Award, handed out by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.
Anyone with information about the arson attack can call West Midlands Police on 101, quoting incident reference number 20DY/97798X/19. Alternatively, witnesses can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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