Sidmouth fire hotel security work pledge

MAJOR work to fortify Sidmouth’s fire-hit Fortfield Hotel will be completed by Monday- environmental health chiefs have revealed.

MAJOR work to fortify Sidmouth’s fire-hit Fortfield Hotel will completed today (Monday, January 17) - environmental health chiefs have vowed.

A developer hopeful of purchasing the site, demolishing the derelict building and replacing it with 48 apartments, has vowed to increase security measures there as “a sign of good faith.”

“It is extremely disappointing the owner has taken five years to reach this point – and only after a serious fire that could have claimed lives or damaged neighbouring properties,” said an East Devon District District Council (EDDC) spokesperson after authority officers, police and fire chiefs held a meeting at the Fortfield last Tuesday.

EDDC revealed on Wednesday that would-be Fortfield developer ZeroC has vowed to ensure:

l Ground floor windows, doors and openings were boarded up;

l A fire escape was ‘blanked off’ and the height of nearby fencing increased to prevent access to higher floors;

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l Stairways and access points were secured;

l A metal perimeter fence was reorganised, extended and replaced where damaged, and properly locked together.

A security firm currently carrying out regular site inspections will hold discussions with police “as soon as possible.”

EDDC said the work will be completed by Monday. Council officers will visit the site this week to check on progress.

The Herald revealed how ZeroC hopes to submit a planning application within weeks.

Managing director Kim Slowe said the firm was “looking forward” to preparing a scheme “that will meet local aspirations. We understand concerns about security and we are committed to ensuring this matter will be properly addressed,” he added.

In a joint statement, Sidmouth town ward district representatives, Councillors Graham Liverton, Frances Newth and Chris Gibbings, said: “We are cautiously optimistic that a new and positive chapter is about to begin in the life of this prominent and important area of our town.”

Cllr Liverton added: “I hope the end to this sorry saga will be in sight.”