Thieves caught lead-handed at abandoned hotel

A POLICE officer’s routine patrol of Ottery St Mary ended with the arrest of two men on suspicion of the theft of lead from the roof of the former Salston Manor Hotel.

PC David Smith was checking on the historic house during a shift on Monday when he spotted alleged suspicious activity there.

A police spokesman confirmed two men, not from the Ottery area, had been arrested on suspicion of theft and had been bailed until September 5.

Salston Manor has been empty since it was sold in 2008.

A new owner successfully applied for planning permission to change it into a 76-bed care home, but plans stalled, and last year there was talk of a scheme to bring it back into ‘community use’, but three years on it still sits empty.

Last year, Ottery St Mary Town Council lobbied the district council to take action to stop the Grade II listed building from deteriorating further, describing conditions inside as “shocking”.

After being threatened with an Urgent Works Notice, the owners eventually took action to make the 27-room hotel watertight and secure.

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Police said lead theft had become an increasing problem in the past few years, with metal prices at record a high.