A HUGE fire which gutted a row of businesses is still causing headaches a year on for two of Burnley’s oldest traders who have been forced to put their retirement plans on hold.
Eric and Pam Marshall, who own New Way Dry Cleaners and Temple Street Launderette, described the last year as “a nightmare”.
A massive fire on March 21st devastated neighbouring businesses in the row, prompting fears part of the building would have to be pulled down.
But, 12 months down the line, the owners of the businesses affected have not been able to agree a price with insurers for demolition.
The situation has left the Marshalls, whose two shops form the end of the terrace, in limbo and their trade down.
Mr Marshall (73) said: “The last year has been a complete nightmare. We were told straight after the fire that part of the building would have to be pulled down but a year down the line nothing has been done.
“We have been told one of the businesses is not insured and that is causing the delay. Our businesses can remain open because they weren’t badly damaged, but the row just looks a complete mess.
“The pavement outside is fenced off and many people think we are closed because it now looks like a building site.”
The Marshalls added their own insurance costs had gone up by £3,000 a year when it was renewed last July and fear further increases this year could cause them serious problems.
“We feel very aggrieved by the whole situation. Burnley Council has done nothing to help. Surely it is not good for the image of Burnley to have an eyesore like this standing for a year. I can’t understand why the council cannot step in and take action on this.”
Reece Renton (20), of Pine Street, Burnley, and Jack Bradbury (18), of no fixed address, admitted starting the blaze when they appeared at Burnley Crown Court in December.
Renton was sentenced to four years and eight months in a young offenders’ institution and Bradbury to three years four months in a young offenders’ institution.
It was also heard in court that business owners Saeed Rehman, Kabbir Muhammed and Zahid Khan each said their lives had been ruined by the arson attack.
Mr Khan, who owns most of the properties, said he could have to pay £20,000 towards demolition costs and he and his wife have had to stop her IVF treatment. Mr Muhammed, who owned Delicious Pizzas, said he has since had to borrow money from family and his wife had had to sell her jewellery to make ends meet.
A Burnley Council spokesman said: “We’re working with all parties and keeping in regular touch to find a solution to this issue but we are in the hands of their insurance company.
“This is a complex issue with a number of property owners involved who all have to agree on a course of action. The council has to work within the law. The powers we have to step in are restricted but we are doing all we can to bring this to a successful conclusion for everyone involved.”