Popular café torched for ‘desperate’ food theft?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 September 2011
A COMMUNITY café has been the victim of an arson attack with the devastated owner believing it was a desperate act to steal more than £500 of food which was kept inside.
Clarence Park café on Walliscote Road, Weston was set on fire on Sunday evening. Owner Tony Munden, aged 42 from Drove Road, Weston said: “All of the food was taken, the fridges were empty. This is not just vandalism; I think this was a robbery that has been covered up with a fire. This was done by someone desperate.
“I’m devastated, this place has been my whole life and it’s the community’s cafe.”
Mr Munden, who has ran the café for nine years, said it was stocked with more than £500 worth of food for the Bank Holiday.
He said: “When I arrived in the morning and unlocked the door the smell and sight just hit me. I couldn’t believe it had happened.”
He said fire services were able to detect that five fires that had been started and the café was able to survive being burn to the ground because of a plastic water pipe which ran around the ceiling. When the fire reached the pipe, it melted and doused the flames, leaving the structure almost intact, but the inside is now completely charred.
He said: “This is horrifying and needs dealing with. They don’t know how lucky they are, someone could have been killed.”
Mr Munden said that blood and finger prints have been found by the police. The only access points were two small windows near the roof, as the rest have been boarded up and decorated with menus and art work, due to previous break-ins.
Mr Munden said the café has suffered 46 break-ins in the last six years and the council has still not allowed close circuit television cameras to be installed, or the park gates to be locked at night.
He said: “We had no trouble for two years when the gates were locked. Last May I asked the council if I could put locks on the gates and I have not heard anything back.”
Nick Yates, communications officer for North Somerset council said: “There is no CCTV as it could cost up to £20,000 to install a camera. The park wall is only four feet high so closing gates would not prevent access.”
Lisa Cotton, aged 32 from Clifton Road in Weston visits the café every day. She said: “It’s really disappointing, the café was always really busy and Tony kept his prices low, now I imagine he will have to put his prices up.”
Mr Munden said he posted the news of the arson attack on Facebook and has already had 60 people respond, offering help to get the café back on its feet.
He said: “People want to know why we have been neglected by security.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Weston Mercury. Click the link in the orange box below for details.