Arsonist sets fire to allotment shed

  • Shed and £500 of tools reduced to ashes
  • Council reviewing security at allotments
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An allotment holder was left counting the cost after an arsonist set fire to his shed, destroying the tools which were kept inside.

Firefighters were called to the allotments in Malthouse Road at 9.40pm on Sunday (March 8) but the shed was well alight when they arrived and could not be saved.

CO 090315 Arson at allotment owned by Mike Pickett. Photo  by Derek Martin SUS-150903-143713001

CO 090315 Arson at allotment owned by Mike Pickett. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150903-143713001

By the next morning, the shed, which was owned by Southgate councillor Michael Pickett, was little more than a pile of ashes.

Cllr Pickett, who has worked an allotment on the site for nine years, said: “I had about £500 of tools in there.

“There was a cultivator and there were the usual spades and other things. I had a bench and a wheel barrow destroyed.”

As well as the fire, Cllr Pickett said sheds belonging to two of his allotment neighbours had been broken into on the same night, although nothing was stolen.

We have had so many break-ins up there that in the end I stopped putting a lock on the shed because they just broke it off

Michael Pickett

He added: “It really is annoying. We have had so many break-ins up there that in the end I stopped putting a lock on the shed because they just broke it off.

“I’ve had no trouble for three years and now this.”

The Malthouse Road allotment is one of 20 such sites which belong to Crawley Borough Council.

A council spokesman said: “We have given advice to allotment holders in the past about not storing valuable items or flammable liquids in sheds following advice from the police.

“We are currently reviewing how we manage our allotment sites, seeking feedback from allotment holders, and security is one of the areas we are investigating.”

In January, Cllr Pickett was among several Southgate residents concerned about a number of arsons which had been carried out in the area.

Members of the Southgate Community Forum launched an initiative calling on residents to make reporting suspicious behaviour a part of their daily routine.

Regarding the fire at the allotments, Cllr Pickett added: “These things happen. It’s not the first time. It’s happened before to a few allotmenteers about three years ago so I expect it’s something we just have to live with.”

Witnesses or anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk quoting serial 360 of 09/03.