MP questions whether police knew about demolition of historic pub gutted by fire

Marco Longhi, MP for Dudley North, said the public were ‘extremely angry’ over the loss of The Crooked House pub.

An MP has demanded to know whether police were warned ahead of the demolition of a historic pub two days after it was gutted by fire.

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi has questioned why police did not intervene in the demolition of The Crooked House given that the investigation into the blaze at the site is ongoing.

In a letter to Chief Constable Chris Noble of Staffordshire Police, Mr Longhi questioned whether police were notified of the demolition, which took place on Monday.

Crooked House pub fire
The burned out remains of The Crooked House pub near Dudley (Jacob King/PA)

It followed the fire which caused extensive damage at the 18th-century property on Saturday evening.

In the letter Mr Longhi said: “The lack of information being provided to the public has raised animosity amongst the local community in relation to the investigation.

“As an MP even I am not encouraged by the way matters were dealt with by the relevant authorities.

“To make matters worse, this site was demolished the day after it caught fire, which raises strong questions.

“If the police are investigating the fire incident, then why would the site be demolished whilst the police are conducting their enquiries, which may possibly require a forensic examination to gather evidence?”

Mr Longhi asked the force about who was responsible for demolishing the site, whether police were notified and if so, why they did not intervene if it could have interfered with their investigation, and also whether the force was in correspondence with other authorities.

Access roads to the burning pub, seen prior to demolition, were blocked as emergency services attempted to deal with the fire (Jacob King/PA)
Staffordshire Police have said that their investigation into the blaze is continuing (Jacob King/PA)

Up to 30 firefighters were needed to tackle the blaze at the pub in Himley, near Dudley in the West Midlands.

The building was levelled on Monday despite South Staffordshire Council stating that they had permitted only the top floor to be demolished for safety reasons.

The council said on Tuesday that it was exploring whether the total demolition constituted a breach of the law and stated that it had not agreed to “the demolition of the whole structure”, nor deemed it necessary following an inspection.

Meanwhile, Staffordshire Police have said that their investigation continues and that it is looking at “all of the available evidence” into the cause of the blaze, which has not yet been established.

However, Mr Longhi said in his letter that the lack of information was leading to “rising anger” and “dissatisfaction” among the public.

He said: “I would like to stress upon the fact that The Crooked House was not just an ordinary building but a historical landmark which was held dearly by the local community.

“The way everything has been conducted and the little to no information being provided is leading to rising anger amongst the public and dissatisfaction towards these agencies.

“What has happened at this site is raising strong questions, some of which I am sure you may already be aware of.

“No building, regardless of its importance, should be treated in the way The Crooked House has been treated. The public is extremely angry.”

Staffordshire Police has been approached for comment in response to Mr Longhi’s letter.

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