A businessman who planned to turn a social club into a Muslim centre says he is unable to find a new site for his project – a year on from a suspected arson attack.
The spot where Shotton Lane Social Club once stood still lies empty and no-one has ever been prosecuted for the blaze that destroyed the community building on February 4 last year.
The shocking incident, which saw more than 100 people evacuated from their homes, happened just weeks after Monchab Ali – chairman of the Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society – announced his plan to turn the empty venue into an Islamic cultural centre.
Mr Ali, who owns the Bengal Dynasty restaurant in Shotton, had hoped to create a community facility open to everyone in Deeside to learn more about Islam and had bought the building just two days before it was targeted.
He said: “Since the fire we have been trying to find another alternative site for the centre, but we have had no joy at all so far. It has been extremely difficult because there is nothing suitable on the market at the moment.”
He added: “We have not heard anything from the police regarding the investigation. We are not hopeful of a positive outcome. We will just have to keep looking for a new site.”
Dozens of firefighters spent hours tackling the inferno, which was started weeks after right-wing group the English Defence League staged an anti-Islam march through Deeside.
Afterwards, a joint police and fire service investigation was launched, with CCTV footage studied and house-to-house enquires carried out. Last week North Wales Police refused to confirm whether the investigation was still ongoing.
Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami, whose office is in nearby Rowleys Drive, said a scar had been left on the community.
“It is still just an empty patch of land and it is a real shame to see,” he said. “I believe there are currently some ownership and insurance issues surrounding the site, so I hope these can be resolved quickly and it can become a community facility once again.”
The arson attack last February immediately followed an English Defence League demonstration against the planned Islamic Centre. Indeed, the EDL were only too happy to point out the link between the two events.