Despair after New Brighton fire
Leaders are despairing after the New Brighton mall was hit by a suspicious fire a week out from the Christmas Parade.
Fire services attended the fire at the abandoned Club 25 building at 3am today.
Police had been alerted as the fire was suspicious, a fire spokeswoman said.
New Brighton Project chairwoman Tracey Keen said the suspected arson was "pointless and disheartening",
"I heard this morning that there had been an arson in the mall overnight and as I came down the road I just had this feeling it would be Club 25. Then I saw it and my heart sank," she said.
The group had recently "beautified" the Club 25 site, which was due to be demolished next year.
"We just had it looking nice with murals and a wee cafe set up there. The whole community got involved. We were going to put our Gapfiller piano in there soon; thank god we didn't," Keen said.
"It was just so pointless and stupid".
"Thankfully there was a concrete wall there so the fire didn't catch. It would have been disastrous if it had," Keen said.
"Now it's a smelly eyesore. Hopefully we can clean it up before the parade next week. We're gearing up for that and we want the area to look nice."
Keen said the suspected arson exemplified a "general attitude" held by some towards New Brighton.
"I overheard a couple walking down the mall the other day saying 'Why don't they just burn the whole of New Brighton?' I was shocked that people think that way," she said.
"We're trying hard to make New Brighton a nice place to be and then people just go and undermine it all. It is disheartening."