A video has revealed the destruction caused to South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse council offices by an alleged arson attack.
Council leaders today conceded there was ‘still a long way to go’ to restore the offices, after fires tore through the building three weeks ago.
Andrew Main, 47, of Roke Marsh, Wallingford, appeared in Oxford Crown Court last week charged with two counts of arson with intent to endanger life and two counts of arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.
The local authorities have now released a video exposing the extensive damage caused to their offices.
At the time of the blaze, eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a car filled with gas canisters driven into the town hall’s planning offices. A total of three local fires were reported in the early hours of 15 January.
Leaders said the planning department’s office was ‘decimated’ by the fire, with a fortnight’s delay currently anticipated for existing applications.
Two thirds of council staff have been working out of temporary offices since the blaze, with the remainder working from home.
Cllr John Cotton, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: ‘The fact that we were up and running so soon is a result of good business continuity planning mixed with some ingenuity and improvisation. As much as anything else though, it’s down to some serious hard work from our staff who have pulled together and risen to the challenge brilliantly.
‘There’s a long way to go yet, but I’m very happy that the majority of our residents will barely have noticed a blip in the services we’re providing.’
Cllr Matthew Barber, leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, added: ‘We’re really grateful to everybody for their offers of support and practical help, as well as to people for being patient with for the week or so that some of our services were delayed. Thankfully we’ve managed to keep any disruption to a minimum.
‘The most important thing is that nobody with an urgent problem has been made to wait a minute longer than they should.’