Essex

Colchester garrison fire: MP critical of 'lax security'

Firefighters at Old Garrison fire Image copyright darius laws
Image caption Taylor Wimpey is planning to build four homes at the site in Colchester

The owner of a former military garrison that caught on fire on Saturday should be "held responsible for lax security", Colchester's MP has said.

The fire engulfed a former stable block at the Roman Circus Walk site, which is being converted into housing.

Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell said the building had a "rich heritage" and should have been better protected.

But owners, Taylor Wimpey, said "frequent security patrols" had been carried out on the site.

The cause of the blaze, which started just after midnight and was out by 04:45 BST, was so far "undetermined", according to Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

Image copyright Darius Laws
Image caption Essex Fire and Rescue Service said the cause of the fire was not yet known

Sir Bob said he wanted the council to ensure the fire did not slow down the planned development.

"I shall be looking to Colchester Borough Council to firstly demand that the owners make the building secure to prevent a recurrence and to insist that plans for restoration of this historic building are put forward as a matter of urgency," he said.

Taylor Wimpey said openings which had been identified in the building had been boarded up prior to the fire and the site was regularly inspected.

A spokesperson said the company was "reviewing the next steps" of its plans for four new homes.

Tim Young, with responsibility for planning on Colchester Borough Council, said the company would be expected to fully repair the building following the fire.

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