Basildon Council may have to pay huge bill over latest Felmores fire (From Braintree and Witham Times)
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Basildon Council may have to pay huge bill over latest Felmores fire
5:00pm Monday 30th April 2012 in South Essex news
BASILDON Council is facing a huge bill after being accused of negligence over the 2009 Felmores blaze.
An insurance company is trying to recover money from the council following the fire, which saw eight homes destroyed.
Swan Housing, a partner of the council providing social housing in the borough, has already received an undisclosed insurance payout from the firm after having to build six new brick-built properties in place of those that were destroyed in the fire on November 13, 2009.
Now its insurance company is trying to recover the money from the council amid claims negligence led to the fire.
The company alleges the council had a responsibility to remove a sofa dumped outside one of the properties, which was deliberately set on fire and started the blaze. The council denies it was negligent and says the sofa would only have been removed if it had been reported to its bulky item collection service.
A council spokesman said: “The council has received an insurance claim relating to the Bockingham Green fire.
“The council has denied all allegations of negligence made against it. It would not be appropriate for the council to comment any further at this time.”
However, he added the council had previously stated it bears no responsibility for the blaze.
He said: “Furniture had been dumped in the area but the council’s collection service had not been notified. If the council had been notified, the furniture would have been removed and the arsonist would not have been able to use it to start the fire.
“We appealed to all residents at the time to report abandoned furniture and would continue to urge them to do so.
“The council is adamant that it bears no responsibility for the unfortunate consequences of the criminal actions of a third party.”
The Echo has learned that Swan’s insurers are preparing to take the matter to a civil court case if the council does not settle with them. It has been taking statements in preparation for a case from residents for months.
In those sworn statements, residents have alleged the sofa may have sat uncollected by the council for up to 17 days before the fire.
A spokesman for Swan Housing would not comment on the possible court case and said its own claim had been settled through its insurers.