ARSONISTS have set back a plan to turn a derelict Cotmanhay pub into a mini-supermarket by up to two weeks, according to angry builders on the site.
Yobs broke in to the Live and Let Live pub – set to become a Costcutter store – in the early hours of Sunday morning and, when they could find nothing to steal, they set fire to a small digger inside the building.
The blaze spread quickly to the new roof, which builders had recently installed, and firefighters from Ilkeston and Heanor stations were called to the scene at about 4.45am.
A contractor from Birmingham-based Spectrum who was checking the damage at the Charlotte Street pub on Monday morning said they will be upping security at weekends as it was the second time since work began that the pub had been broken into.
“They were after scrap metal, I think,” he explained.
“It looks like they had a go at the fuse box, then found this digger in the way of the door and set fire to it.
“It’s going to add an extra week or two to the job.
“I suppose it could have been worse, the whole lot could have gone, but it’s really frustrating.”
Matt Dangerfield watch manager of Ilkeston fire station’s Green Watch, said crews were detained about 90 minutes tackling the blaze.
“When we arrived, there were flames coming out of the front door and also out of the apex of the roof,” he said.
“So we broke down the door and a couple of boarded-up windows to be able to see what was going on.
Police were forced to close the road, but have said there is not enough evidence left at the scene to investigate it as arson.
However, Mr Dangerfield said he was confident that the fire was started deliberately.
He added: “Even if it had been an electrical fault with the digger, that would have stopped burning by that time as it would have been well over 12 hours since it was used.
“During the early hours after a Saturday night, with people coming back from bars and clubs, there are sometimes small fires started.”
The pub was also attacked by arsonists in March last year, while it was still derelict.
Cllr Dave Morgan, who represents Cotmanhay on Erewash Borough Council, said: “If you’re a company like Costcutter it must make you think twice about putting a store like this in Cotmanhay.
“It’s a real shame because we are trying to bring shopping back locally and away from the big supermarkets.
“Anybody who saw what happened should contact the police.”
A spokesman from Costcutter declined to comment on the incident.