Posted: Mon 20th Apr 2020

Anger as arsonists torch gates of historic building near Abergele

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Monday, Apr 20th, 2020

A man who led the fight to save an historic building says thugs set fire to gates using petrol and coughed at volunteers during lock down.

Cllr Dr Mark Baker, Conwy county councillor and founder of Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, said he wants parents to impress on children the dangers of visiting the partly ruined structure and grounds near Abergele.

He said the Trust hadn’t recovered from Storms Ciara and Dennis, where “hundreds of trees” were felled by high winds, before the coronavirus lock down hit.

Now it has emerged thugs used petrol to burn down gates and a 500 year-old tree on the site in March.

In another incident a volunteer, trying to educate youths on the need to social distance during lock down, was “coughed at”.

Cllr Baker said 30 feet of fencing, hedges, trees and a gate were incinerated after being doused in petrol.

He said: “It’s been pretty horrific but the police have been supportive.

“The problem is there is no public right of way up there and there are metal gates so it’s easy to transfer Covid-19 – it can live on metal for up to two hours.

“There’s no route where you don’t go through a barrier or a gate and there are people living on the estate who are self-isolating.”

Cllr Baker said police are aware of the incident and are patrolling the area regularly.

In another episode of anti-social behaviour a volunteer was abused by youths. He added: “There were some kids being rude to a member of staff explaining it was shut and they started coughing at her.”

Officers were called and the children’s parents were visited by North Wales Police said Cllr Baker.

He said there was still a risk of falling trees, left unstable by the storm, as well as dangers around the building’s structure.

He said: “They think because it’s shut they can go up to the castle and its grounds without any consequence.

“It’s isolated and it’s vulnerable so we need people to take care and not put themselves at risk – parts of the building are still ruined and we don’t want people to be hit by a tree.

“It’s been very dangerous. The storm washed part of the drive away and felled hundreds of trees.”

Cllr Baker wants some common sense to prevail during lockdown, having lost his grandfather to the novel coronavirus, so people don’t put themselves in harm’s way and don’t spread the virus.

He said: “People just need to be sensible and think about protecting their health and others’. You don’t know who else has gone along the path and through the gates.

“To have the reality hit you when a close family member dies of coronavirus, it makes it real.

“Ninety-nine percent of people have been lovely and accepting and supportive. It’s just that 1% of people.”

North Wales Police confirmed it was made aware on April 6 of the fire and damage at Gwrych Castle .

By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter



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