COMMUNITY leaders have condemned “disgraceful” thieves who targeted a new foodstore while it is still under construction.
The new Farmfoods store is being built on the site of the former Pink Domino pub, in Hartlepool’s Catcote Road, and work is well on the way.
But brazen thieves targeted the store sometime overnight on Tuesday into Wednesday morning, making off with cables, containing copper, and a number of tools.
Police have launched an investigation and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, who represents the Manor House ward, labelled those responsible “disgraceful” for targeting the regeneration scheme which will bring new jobs to town.
There is no opening date yet but when the Farmfoods store does open it will create 15 new jobs.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “I condemn those responsible for targeting this regeneration scheme which will bring jobs to the area.
“I would appeal for anyone with any information to get in touch with the police because this is disgraceful.The people that have carried this out do not have any regard for the regeneration that is happening in Hartlepool.”
The Pink Domino pub was demolished in February to the dismay of devastated residents angry over the loss of their favourite local pub.
Plans for the store were approved by Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee but residents argued it should remain as a pub because of a covenant dating back to when the council originally owned the land where the public house was built.
They put forward various objections in an attempt to have the building saved from the demolition team.
But planners said the covenant was a civil matter and officers speaking at the time said they could not reasonably withhold its release.
It was since agreed that half of the money from releasing the covenant will go back into the community with residents and local councillors all having a say about how the cash will be spent, with the rest of the money going into the council’s capital receipts pot.
Farmfoods, which didn’t wish to comment on the theft, said the pub was no longer viable, and pub owners Enterprise Inns said the decision had been taken after “careful consideration”.
When the new store does open its doors, its proposed opening hours are 7am-10pm Mondays to Fridays, 7am-8pm on Saturdays and 10am-4pm on Sundays.
The incident, which happened between 8.45pm on Tuesday, June 4, and 8am on Wednesday, June 5, is being treated as a burglary. Anyone with information is urged to ring PC Dave Williamson, of Hartlepool Police, on the non-emergency number 101.