Sidmouth Fortfield owner defends security

THE owner of Sidmouth’s derelict Fortfield Hotel had defended security measures aimed and stopping trespassers entering the site- in the week fire drama gripped the town.

THE owner of Sidmouth’s derelict Fortfield Hotel has defended security measures aimed at stopping trespassers entering the site - in the week fire drama gripped the town.

Andrew Torjussen told the Herald: “If anybody wants to get in, I’m afraid they will… Someone even got into Buckingham Palace.

“All we want to do now is move on.”

Mr Torjussen said he and a development partner, intent on transforming the site into 48 apartments, are looking into improving security further.

He added talks with fire safety experts took place this week, fencing has been ‘doubled up’ in places, and a local building firm was hired to re-secure the blaze-hit property.

“I spoke to one of the fire officers just after the New Year,” said Mr Torjussen, “We’ve done what he wanted us to do.

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“It’s exactly the same security we had before the fire. It was secure and it is secure now.

“Let’s be honest, if somebody wants to get into an empty building, they will do so.

“There’s very little to stop people getting in if they really want to. All you can do is make it as unwelcoming as possible. We have done that. It is quite obvious the site is not to be entered.

“We are looking at more security.”

Mr Torjussen, who was staying in Sidmouth with his family last week, thanked and praised “excellent” firefighters who tackled the blaze.

He rushed back from a trip to Exeter last Thursday when neighbours alerted him to the fire.

“We were expecting a nice couple of days in Sidmouth,” said Mr Torjussen. “Fortunately, the fire wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been.

“I was shocked when I heard, I didn’t quite know what to expect.

“I have an excellent relationship with local residents. They are very good neighbours who keep an eye open for anything that might be amiss.”

l COUNCILLORS have called for improved security at the Fortfield Hotel. Turn to page 11.