'Absolutely scandalous': Dismay after fire destroys empty public house in Shropshire
A councillor has spoken of his dismay after an historic empty public house was destroyed in a blaze.
The Countess Arms, in Weston Heath, off the A41 between Newport and Tong, went up in flames on Monday morning.
Sheriffhales farmer and ward representative Gordon Tonkinson said it was scandalous that large buildings, such as disused pubs, were allowed by the authorities to remain vacant for long periods of time.
He said the practice was a recipe for disaster for old buildings as they often sustained damage as a result.
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Councillor Tonkinson said: "This is something that was waiting to happen.
"This is a disgusting situation to have come about. It's put a nasty blot on our parish.
"It was a beautiful large building. We are very sad to see it come to such an end after all this time.
"There is a lot of history to it.
"I only live about 500 yards away.
"I have lived here all my life and it used to be my local at one time.
"It was built by the Duke of Sutherland about a century ago. The current owners bought it about 17 years ago. But latterly it became derelict and the roof had been taken off.
"It has been empty for just over 10 years. It's absolutely scandalous that this has happened.
"People living in the area are not surprised. We feared this day would come.
"I believe in free enterprise and there should be a system in place where taxes are increased for such empty premises to force property owners to sell them on.
"We kept hoping to see somebody come along to take it over as it's absolutely blighted this area. Sadly that didn't happen."
The fire was reported by a passing motorist who phoned 999 at 3.50am on Monday.
Crews arriving at the fire found the old pub, formerly known as The Plough, well alight with flames through the roof and windows shattered from the intense heat.
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