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Council to claim from site insurers for fire cleanup to protect taxpayers

Mansfield District Council says the cost of hiring a contractor to clear debris from houses and gardens after a large industrial fire remains unknown.

However, it says any fees – which are currently coming from the authority’s budgets – will be recouped from an insurance claim and will not be funded by the taxpayer.

The town was brought to a standstill on Saturday, March 18 after a major fire broke out at the Savanna Rags industrial site, on Forest Road.

The fire alight at Savanna Rags on March 18. Credit NFRS

The longstanding Mansfield business has since announced it is ceasing operations “with immediate effect”.

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An online fundraiser has been set up to support members of staff who lost their jobs as a result of the fire.

The remnants of the Savanna Rags site following the fire. Credit Mansfield District Council 1

Control of the site has been handed to Mansfield District Council with site clear-up, debris removal and demolition works to begin.

Nottinghamshire County Council initially appointed a contractor to conduct these works before control was handed to the Labour-run district authority.

The structure of the Savanna Rags fire following the blaze. Credit NFRS

The district council has confirmed the same contractor was then appointed to undertake debris removal from more than 40 homes near the fire site.

This work began on Monday (March 27) and will continue throughout this week.

Now the authority has confirmed the cost of this additional work “are yet to be determined” but all early funding is coming from within its own budgets.

But the authority says it plans to lodge an insurance claim to the insurers of the industrial estate to ensure Mansfield taxpayers are not footing the bill.

The remnants of the Savanna Rags site following the fire. Credit Mansfield District Council

A council spokesperson said: “An immediate emergency response clear-up, site demolition work, and debris removal for prioritised residential properties was required.

“On Sunday, March 19, Nottinghamshire County Council initially appointed the contractor to undertake these works.

“For continuity, the council appointed the same contractor to complete further work to remove debris from more than 40 residential properties near the fire site. This work commenced Monday, March 27.

“The costs of these additional works by the contractor are yet to be determined.

“Initially, the funding for the wider clear-up operation has been allocated from council budgets.

“However, the council plans to submit a claim to the insurers of the industrial estate to recuperate these costs.

“Any ongoing clean-up of the site and further demolition work is now the site owner’s responsibility.”

The authority has been working with its community safety and environmental health officers to support nearby residents with the clean-up works.

The authority added: “We have officers across the council supporting the business and workers affected by this industrial fire and will continue to do so.”

In a statement following the blaze, which could be seen from several miles away at its peak, Savanna Rags confirmed it would be closing down.

The textile recycling company said: “It is with deep regret and sadness that we … ceasing our operations with immediate effect.”

A fundraiser for the affected staff added: “The staff have always been amazing and now they face uncertain times.

“Many have families and this job put food on the table for their families.

“We want to help by raising as much money for these families, who have lost their living.

“With the cost of living crisis, the fire couldn’t come at a worse time.”

The fundraiser, which has so far raised £500, can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/those-staff-affected-by-the-fire-at-savannah

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