‘Restorative justice’ for young Cedars Hotel arsonists
THE ARSONISTS responsible for the devastating blaze at Newquay's Cedars Hotel in March have been identified as three boys aged between 10 and 11.
The unnamed trio were described as "suspects" in the aftermath of the fire, but police confirmed last week that they had admitted starting it.
Inspector Dave Meredith said they had been punished by means of "restorative justice" – community work such as cleaning streets and buildings.
The Verto Group, which owns the site of the derelict hotel on the corner of St George's Road and Mount Wise, has said it is happy with the police's course of action.
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Director Richard Pearce said: "They [the police] contacted us and asked if we were happy with using that system and we said we were.
"They are only children at the end of the day and kids will be kids. No one was hurt or injured and hopefully lessons have been learnt.
"The most important thing for us was that they said they would be going into schools with the fire service to hammer home to children how dangerous these sites are. I'm told this is going ahead now."
Fifty firefighters, six engines, an aerial ladder platform and other vehicles were scrambled to the blaze at around 4.30pm on March 6.
Crowds gathered outside a cordon as plumes of smoke enveloped nearby streets, causing 30 neighbours to be evacuated.
The fire, classed by police as a "major incident", cost taxpayers thousands of pounds.
The Verto Group plans to build 14 townhouses on the site and was on the verge of knocking the building down when the blaze broke out.
Mr Pearce said the financier for the demolition had pulled out after the fire, causing a delay, but they were now "90 per cent" of the way towards securing a new deal.
It was reported in May that the company had encountered logistical issues with its plans to level the building as the neighbouring landowner wanted to charge it to site demolition equipment on its land.
Mr Pearce said: "We can only apologise to the people of Newquay. We did say we wanted it pulling down before the summer but despite our best efforts this just hasn't been possible, because of the fire.
"It will be down this year though, and we'll be starting our work to put family homes on the site."