Arsonists suspected of pavilion blaze

By Ted JeoryA COUNCILLOR has spoken of his anger after a suspected arson attack on a village's cricket pavilion that razed the building to the ground.

By Ted Jeory

A COUNCILLOR has spoken of his anger after a suspected arson attack on a village's cricket pavilion that razed the building to the ground.

Firefighters were called to the recreation ground in Kirby-le-Soken in the early hours of yesterday after a fire had started in the pavilion.

They were called out at 2.48am, but could not stop the complete destruction of the 75-year-old building, which had two changing rooms, showers and a tearoom.

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It is unclear how the blaze started at the Tendring District Council-owned pavilion - home to Kirby-le-Soken Cricket Club and Frinton and Walton Football Club - but police are treating the fire as arson.

Robert Bucke, district councillor for the Holland and Kirby ward, said the suspected arson was a major loss for the community.

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“It's sad reflection on society that someone would want to destroy such a wonderful building,” he added.

“It's a shame that buildings like it are always going to be vulnerable to vandalism. The facilities that pavilion provided were vital.

“It's come just at the start of the football season and it's not as if we are overloaded with recreational spaces around here.

“I hope we can get it replaced as quickly as possible. One day it will come back and rise from the ashes.”

Retained firefighter Scott Rodwell was among the two crews from Frinton and one from Clacton who tackled the blaze.

Mr Rodwell, who played for both the football and cricket teams, said: “When I arrived, I looked at the building and thought you've just got to do your job here. It wasn't until after that you start to realise the implications of it.

“Only last weekend we had our veterans versus regulars cricket match there and that's always the fun part of the season - it kind of draws it to a close.

“But now this. It's a real shame for the community. I've already had a lot of the lads calling up asking about it - I think they still had some gear locked away there. I've no idea what's going to happen to the football now.”

A spokesman for Tendring District Council said the fire had been “very distressing” and added it would look at replacing the building and trying to help out sports teams made homeless by the blaze.

Football Association rules state home teams must provide changing facilities for their opposition.

But Pat Morris, secretary to the Exiles club, another club that uses the pavilion on Sunday mornings, said officials had told her all might not be lost.

Mrs Morris, who is also treasurer to the Kirby Playing Field Association, which helped run the pavilion, said: “I spoke to someone at the county FA.

“They've given us permission to carry on playing as long as the visiting teams don't mind going back to the old days and changing by the side of the pitch.”

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