Arsonists strike at youth centre

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An arson attack at a Belper youth centre has delayed a £5,000 refurbishment – the night before work was due to start.

The latest in a spate of increasingly serious vandalism in the Derwent Street area, the blaze at the Drop Inn Youth Centre was started at around 10.50pm on December 27.

The fire gutted a disused storage shed, affecting electricity supplies to the centre’s Jam Jar Music Studio and raising fears among neighbouring traders about the proximity of an electricity sub-station. Firefighters said the blaze had been “started deliberately” and police were called in.

The Jam Jar studio won a county-wide Lloyds Bank public vote for a grant in October and while the start of the project has been delayed, Drop Inn founder, Andrea Fox vowed the works would still go ahead.

She said: “We won’t be stopped by this, we won’t be beaten. But it will make it harder. We had a fantastic 2012. We thought we were going out on a real high. But this puts a real downer on the end of the year.”

Concerns about fires have been raised by traders in Derwent Street. Owner of Amber Valet, Nigel Taft told the Belper News that yobs had tried to set his front door alight and the fire service had been regularly called out to the area, the last time being on Christmas Eve to land opposite the Drop Inn.

He said: “The fires have been gradually getting worse over the last two months.It’s very exposed and police can’t cover it all. Someone is going to get seriously injured. My fear is if the sub-station next to my business is set on fire, all of the surrounding buildings are going to go up.”