'Did your children come home smelling of smoke?' Anger as bid to reopen Chesterfield community centre is hit by 'arson' attack
Attempts to bring a Chesterfield community centre back into use are being hampered by anti-social behaviour and an alleged arson attack.
The former BRSA club, on Station Road, Hollingwood, is currently empty but councillors and residents’ groups are hoping it can become a hub for the community.
Their plans were initially delayed by a row over possible sale of the site, and now by vandals who have been breaking into the building, vandalising it and lighting fires.
Councillor Mick Bagshaw, who represents Hollingwood on Chesterfield Borough Council and Staveley Town Council, said it was ‘very disappointing’ to hear their hard work had been put at risk by teenagers breaking in and causing criminal damage.
"The latest incident of alleged arson happened on September 28. Thankfully, minimal damage was done because of the fast actions of local residents and the fire service.
“Eleven teenagers were seen running away from the scene toward Brimington.
"If anyone has any information on this or previous incidents, please let us know. Parents and guardians have you smelt smoke on your children?
"We would like you to explain the dangers and consequences of their actions. This may have made it harder for us to campaign to have somewhere they can go in future.”
Coun Bagshaw says he has asked officers from the local police safer neighbourhood team (SNT) to step up their patrols in the area to ensure the building is made more secure.
He first joined forces with Coun Paul Man and the town clerk at Staveley Town Council in a bid to reopen the site last November.
Coun Bagshaw says some of the building’s trustees wish to sell the building – but he would like to see it reopened for sport, keep fit classes and toddler groups.
"We ran a survey to see what the community, and former members of the club who still have a say on it, wanted to happen,” he said.
“A petition signed by more than 60 residents supported the plans to try and save the building and nearby land for community use.
"It is a building which holds many childhood memories for me.”