Councillor calls for action by housing association after terrifying arson attack


Police are investigating after three garages went up in flames

A local Councillor has described a case of arson at a garage block close to Banbury homes as terrifying.   The garages at Evenlode have become a focal point for anti-social behaviour and fly tipping.

The Labour Councillor for Banbury Cross and Neithrop, Councillor Dr Chukwudi Okeke, has called on Sanctuary Housing – the site’s landlord – to provide an action plan to address the problems.    Local residents have told him they are frightened and worried about their safety.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service were called to the garages at 9.45pm on Sunday (October 22).   They dealt with the blaze, which had spread to three garages.

Thames Valley Police has confirmed to Banbury FM the incident is being dealt with as arson.

Councillor Okeke said: “The empty garages at Evenlode have been used as hubs for anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, and setting abandoned rubbish ablaze.

“What happened to the garages last weekend was terrifying – thanks to our fire service and police who attended the site to put off a fire ravaging the garages.”

On Monday Councillor Okeke saw the garages for himself and met with some of the residents.   He said: “They were furious that the garages have continuously been used as a bedrock for antisocial behaviour and nothing has been done to address the problem.”

During a pre-arranged visit by Sanctuary Housing to a meeting at Cherwell District Council on Tuesday evening, Councillor Okeke raised the issue with the housing association’s officers and called for swift action to be taken to keep the residents safe.

No response was given at the meeting but a spokesperson for Sanctuary has since told Banbury FM: “We are aware of the ongoing concerns about these garages and are taking this issue very seriously. We will continue to work closely with the local police and local authority to address it and will liaise directly with our residents to discuss our plans.

 “We would again ask residents to report any criminal activity to the police immediately, giving as much detail as possible, so the incidents can be properly investigated. Evidence is crucial for action to be taken, and where there is sufficient evidence, we will not hesitate to work with the police to deal robustly with the people responsible, including taking action for tenancy breaches when appropriate.”

Yesterday Heras fencing was erected around the affected garages to keep the site secure.

Councillor Okeke feels removing the garages would be a good solution, providing extra parking for residents as this is a problem in the area.

Meanwhile Thames Valley Police are asking for people’s help as they try to track down who was behind Sunday’s arson attack.

A spokesperson told Banbury FM: “Officers are investigating the incident and anyone with information is asked to call 101 or make a report online quoting reference number 43230476073.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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