Police look to CCTV to identify Wesley arsonists

Police are studying CCTV recordings in their investigation into last weekend's major fire at the former Wesley nightclub which is being treated as arson.

Friday, 15th December 2017, 4:43 pm
Updated Friday, 15th December 2017, 4:45 pm
The Wesley building on fire. Picture by Tom Collins

Officers are scouring footage from the area in a bid to identify the perpetrators of last Saturday’s blaze that caused significant damage to the historic landmark, including a roof collapse.

It comes as the the vice- chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration committee says the fire must not be allowed to impact on the local authority’s improvement works to Church Street which are under way.

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “Enquiries are ongoing into the fire at the former Wesley nightclub.

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“As part of these enquiries, CCTV is being reviewed and door-to-door enquiries have been carried out.”

Police revealed earlier this week that they are treating the fire as arson.

Fire swept through the Wesley, in Victoria Road, after starting at around 8.30pm on Saturday.

Flames could be seen about 20ft above the roof and attracted the attention of numerous onlookers.

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher says it is vital the building is brought back into use, given its proximity to Church Street.

He said: “Urban regeneration is at the core of the council’s agenda and the former Wesley Chapel is close to the Church Street area, where improvement works are already under way.

“Further phases of work involving Church Square and Stockton Street – immediately adjacent to the Wesley – are also planned and we don’t want anything to detract from the significant improvements that these regeneration schemes will bring.”

The Wesley is currently owned by Stockton development company Jomast.

Following this week’s fire, managing director Stuart Monk told the Mail they still intend to progress with plans to convert it into a 49-bedroom hotel.

Coun Akers-Belcher added: “While the fire and subsequent damage caused is completely regrettable, it does now provide a fresh opportunity for all parties to look at redevelopment opportunities that would bring this iconic building back into use and benefit the town centre, both economically and visually.”

He said the council is committed to working with Jomast.

Anyone with information about the fire should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.