Published: October 18, 2011
Reactions to last night's 'deliberate' Highbridge Hotel blaze

Burnham-On-Sea.com has spoken to Highbridge Hotel owner Derek Mead and local people to get their reactions to last night's fire at the hotel.

As we first reported, fire crews from Burnham and Bridgwater were called to the former hotel at 4.54pm to find the blaze - see video and photos of the fire here.

Hotel owner Derek Mead told Burnham-On-Sea.com he was shocked the building had been attacked again. "We have removed as much of the building's contents as possible so I'm surprised it's been set alight again, but what do you expect when the culprits of the first first fire in 2008 were never caught and locked away."

Cllr Joe Leach told Burnham-On-Sea.com at the scene of the fire: "I am very disappointed to see this happen again, particularly when we are making such strides on finding a future for the Highbridge Hotel. It is obvious that we are trying our best to preserve the hotel and therefore we're very upset that anyone would come along and create problems."

Cllr Helen Groves told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "I am devastated by this turn of events. We had finally reached a point at which all parties were clear there was no possibility of the hotel being demolished and all parties were agreed that any development plans for the site must include some form of restoration to use of the building. The first step in moving things forward was to be the public meeting on Wednesday. I now fear this fire will create delays as the building will need to be reassessed. I sincerely hope the public meeting will go ahead as the new fire has highlighted the urgency of the issue. The risk and disruption to the public, the disruption of public highways, the demands upon police and fire service resources, not to mention the risk to our firemen and women are all unacceptable and the issue must not be permitted to continue unadressed. Assuming the meeting will go ahead as planned on Wednesday, I sincerely hope as many members of the public as are able will attend. It is really important the community which will have to live with any future development is given the chance to be heard and provided all the relevant information."

Cllr Neville Jones told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "There is obviously a need to tackle the future of this site - it is more imperative now than ever. One cannot expect those who own the property to just write off a valuable asset but on the other hand it is important to the community that some equitable future for this previously historic building can be found."

Cllr Chris Williams, writing on Burnham-On-Sea.com's forums, added: "I regard this as a major setback in the campaign to tidy up the site and to justify the amount of council tax-payers cash Highbridge residents wanted to spend to retain the front of the hotel as a 'listed building'. This was supported by English Heritage. As the local councillor who asked for the initial meeting between Mr Mead and SDC earlier this year, and who suggested the extra boarding and the involvement of the wider community, I really don't immediately know where we go from here."

A public consultation workshop is scheduled to be held at the Community Hall in Highbridge - organised by Sedgemoor District Council - this Wednesday 19th October from 4-7pm - full details here.

Also see: Video of this week's fire and photos from the incident

 


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