LAST weekend’s huge fire at Brandon Stadium is being investigated by police as an arson attack.
Rugby Road was closed on Friday evening and local residents left their homes as eight appliances including a turntable ladder and a water tanker were brought in to fight the blaze.
Water had to be drawn from a hydrant on the main road with Severn Trent warning the local community to expect low water pressure and possible discolouring.
The scale of the fire, which is believed to have started around the office area of the main grandstand, is by far the largest and most serious since the stadium was closed by owners Brandon Estates at the end of the 2016 season.
Smoke was seen billowing for miles, and with no fuel or gas supply for ignition anywhere on the site, it appears clear that this was a planned attack.
Ironically it comes shortly after the end of a consultation period into a planning application submitted by the Save Coventry Speedway & Stox Campaign Group.
The masterplan would see the stadium reinstated with enhanced facilities for the local community including provision for the under-stand bar to be converted into a gymnasium.
Early indications suggest that more than 90% of the local community support the application, in contrast to widespread opposition to the owners’ plans to redevelop the site for housing.
Campaign Group spokesman Jeff Davies said: “This latest fire was in close proximity to houses in Speedway Lane and residents were understandably concerned and very angry.
“Like previous fires, traveller incursions and vandalism at the stadium, this has been enabled by the abject failure by the owners, Investin PLC / Brandon Estates, to secure the site.
“From the outset, they underestimated the opposition to their plans and the resolve of the Campaign Group. We would question whether the timing of this latest incident and our own planning application about to go before the planning committee is coincidental."
Remarkably, the day after the fire, the main stadium gates remained wide open and a random afternoon visit revealed no fewer than eleven people, including drone flyers, inside.
The Campaign Group have today (Tuesday) received confirmation from Chief Fire Officer Ben Brook that a thorough investigation of the likely cause will take place, and that they are looking at ways preventative actions can reduce future fires at the stadium.
The Campaign Group also made contact with Brandon Estates on Saturday to make them aware of this latest incident. They were sent photographs of the fire and resultant damage, made aware the stadium still remains wide open and were urged to act before someone is seriously injured or worse. As of late Tuesday, they have not replied.
The owners are still facing court action for breaches of the Community Protection Notice dating back to 2019, and Save Coventry Speedway & Stox Campaign Group have been advised earlier today that the trial date has been set and will commence on November 14.
This latest incident in no way changes the crux of the matter: that the owners shut down a viable, successful motorsports venue at the end of the 2016 season, and have enabled its deterioration into its current devastating condition – and yet the need for the stadium, and the return of speedway and stock car racing, remains as high as ever.