An 18th century pub destroyed by fire will “rise from the ashes”, an MP has said as he urged frustrated members of the public who want answers about what happened to be patient.
Dudley North MP Marco Longhi told a meeting on Wednesday that he would “love to see a Crooked House law” put in place to protect other pubs from the same fate.
The Crooked House, in Himley, West Midlands, burned down on August 5 and was totally demolished without permission on August 7, with Staffordshire Police treating the fire as arson.
The historic site, known as Britain’s wonkiest pub, was sold by pub company Marston’s to a private buyer two weeks prior to the fire after being on the open market since January this year.
At the public meeting at nearby Himley Hall on Wednesday, Mr Longhi urged residents to “be patient and let due process take its course” and avoid posting speculation about the circumstances of the fire on social media.
He told the audience of more than 100 people that the investigation into the incident would be a “marathon not a sprint”, but said he was committed to taking the issue to Parliament and to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, when MPs return from summer recess next month.
He said: “As of yesterday, having met South Staffordshire District Council, I feel much more confident we’re on the right path. They are completely on side.
“We’re running a marathon, not a sprint, we have to be patient and let due process take its course. All the people who want answers straight away need to be patient.
“Facebook is a complete nightmare for us. People say what they feel, when they feel and it is unhelpful.
“This is a complex issue. We are talking months, perhaps even longer.”
He added: “I don’t believe our current legislative framework is strong enough. You have my cast iron guarantee that when Parliament is back in session, I will be knocking on Michael Gove’s door. I would love to see, in future, a Crooked House law.
“It is important we make a change in the law. Our historic pubs and buildings are not protected adequately.
“We need to change what we have in place now so the risk of what has already happened happening again is zero.
“Developers, and I’m not necessarily talking specifically about this case, may feel they can get away with it, but you have my assurance I will be pursuing this every day until we get that changed.”
He also blasted the “disgusting” behaviour of people who have been taking bricks and other debris from the rubble and addressed the erection of security fencing around the site on Tuesday, which caused alarm among concerned members of the public.
He said: “What is unfortunate, which tells us a lot about society, is that it’s probably Dudley people who have taken [bricks] and think they can make a quick buck.
“It is disgusting. I’m happy the fencing is up.”
Staffordshire Police said officers are following a number of lines of inquiry into the blaze, which was reported to the emergency services at 10.45pm on August 5.
And in a statement issued last Friday, Staffordshire Police also confirmed South Staffordshire Council was conducting an investigation into the “demolition of the entire building, without appropriate permissions”.