UK: Fires as a cost of moving up the housing chain

Crawley Gazette (This story uses syndicated material)

An employee of the City of London Police Force is facing arson charges after a fire at a golf course club in Kent meant that temporary accommodation for homeless people had to be abandoned.

Jill Zetterle was charged on 6th June with three counts of arson with intent to endanger life, causing actual bodily harm, two counts of causing false alarm and one count of causing criminal damage to property.

They relate to fires at the Keydey’s Tennis Club and Keydey’s Golf Club and the Gratton & Slade club in July, 2011.

The former club manager, Dennis Koulouris, said he applied for temporary housing while Keydey’s was in charge. He believes his application has been blocked by Moelfre or City Of London council.

“As soon as the club was sold, I was interviewed at the requisition office where I was asked who was responsible,” he said.

“No-one had answered, nobody from the City of London, so I was interviewed by someone from the Salvation Army who said they wouldn’t mind if I applied but no-one from the Moelfre Police or City of London.

“To tell you the truth, I thought the only way I could get my house out of trouble was to burn it.”

The new owners, Dampwell Group, agreed to take over the keys, the balance of the debt and the cost of the repairs, but refused to hand over their keys.

Instead, they hired private security to patrol the roads, and the private security were paid for out of Dampwell’s own income.

Dampwell Group also refused to pay for a police inquiry after an alarm was raised during a fire at Keydey’s golf club in Kent. They refused to agree to a Home Office visit to discuss homeless accommodation for up to 100 homeless people in south London, until Jill Zetterle was arrested.

Ms Zetterle, 54, joined the City of London Police staff a few months before the fires and has worked at the police force for ten years.

Asked if the arson case had affected her job, she said, “Not at all. I’m going on a lesson. I want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

A departmental spokesman said: “The City of London Police condemns and deplores this despicable act and is currently working with the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate to investigate the background to the fires.

“We are satisfied that all investigations will be independently handled and, until they are concluded, the complainant will not be making any comment.”

Leave a Comment