Second arson attack on public toilets in two weeks

Councillor Matthew Beaver next to the gents' toilets in Grosvenor Gardens after an arson attack.
Councillor Matthew Beaver next to the gents' toilets in Grosvenor Gardens after an arson attack.

MALE runners and visitors to next Sunday’s Hastings Half Marathon will be unable to use a public toilet block after arsonists caused thousands of pounds of damage.

The fire, the second arson attack in two weeks, was started at the unit in Grosvenor Crescent, West St Leonards, at around 2pm on Sunday.

Ward councillor Matthew Beaver, who is competing in the race, branded the attack ‘wilful, mindless vandalism’.

Firefighters from Bohemia Road were called to the scene and used breathing apparatus while they tackled the blaze, which gutted the men’s section.

The men’s toilet will now be out of action for next Sunday’s event, which attracts thousands of runners and supporters. The disabled and women’s toilets were unaffected.

On February 27, vandals set fire to public toilets at Falaise Road coach park causing thousands of pounds of damage.

The units cost around £10,000 and severe fire and smoke damage was caused inside to both men’s toilets.

They are also well used by day trippers and holidaymakers during the tourist season and the council will be working around-the-clock to get them back into use as soon as possible.

The nearest public toilet is now next to the Azur restaurant.

Cllr Beaver said: “I just cannot understand what they hope to achieve by this.

“The toilets are a major issue for residents and people who use that end of the promenade such as the bowling club. To have one toilet out of action is bad enough but two in the space of a few days is unacceptable. We are coming up to the busiest time of the year with visitors and tourists and we need all our public conveniences to be open and available to all.

“Security is now an issue. I will be talking to the police and street wardens to see if patrols can be stepped up in the area.

“We need to be more vigilant to stop this kind of thing happening again.”

Caroline Kelly, spokesman for Hastings Borough Council, said: “We will be working as fast as we can to decide to either repair or replace the damaged toilets.

“We will choose whichever is the cheapest option.”

Witnesses and anyone with information can call Hastings Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.