THE owners of a family-run garage fear for the future of their business after arsonists torched five vehicles damaging a neighbouring building.
Zeeshan Khan, whose father Raja owns Kings Motors, believes the arson attack on the Britannia Industrial Park in High Wycombe could damage the reputation of their business and of neighbouring companies.
An empty commercial unit sustained severe smoke damage after five cars were deliberately set on fire in the car-park of the industrial park in Dashwood Avenue just before 1am on January 3, police said.
Multiple windows were smashed on a further six vehicles. Mr Khan said two of the fire-hit vehicles were owned by Kings Motors’ customers.
He said: “We were the target today but it could be a house full of children next time. These people are not just putting people’s lives at risk; it’s the properties, the businesses and the image of those businesses.
“We’ve lost about £2,500 from jobs and the clean-up, that’s the short term. We are struggling as it is and if we can’t guarantee the safety of people’s property when they bring their cars here, who will come to us?
“My father is a hard-working man, he pays his taxes. He came to this country with just a toolbox, this garage was a dream come true for us.
“This is a vicious attempt to put people out of business; this is an attack on our livelihoods, if this closes down what would we do?
“And it’s not just us - good, working class people have lost a lot of money here. One vehicle is a cooling van, so another firm will be losing out on business as they need their vehicles operational to survive.
“Cars from the MoT garage next door were damaged, the building damaged in the fire was under offer and might stop other businesses moving in and this community needs jobs – it’s a chain effect.”
A police cordon was put in place for most of the day while a forensic team investigated the scene.
Ch Insp Colin Seaton, Deputy Area Commander, said: “Fortunately nobody has been injured.
“The neighbourhood policing team is working to offer reassurance to those in the area while we carry out a thorough investigation and find whoever is responsible for this.”
But Mr Khan said he did not have any confidence in the police after the industrial park was targeted by arsonists about a year ago.
He pleaded for the police, council bosses and the site’s owners to improve security measures to prevent such attacks happening again.
The Castlefield area has been plagued by arson attacks in recent years.
Mr Khan said: “There are 12 units here, four are occupied – what does that tell you? It’s a great location but we’re not given the protection or service we deserve. We need lights, gates, CCTV, whatever can help.
“The council also needs to look into this as businesses are going to drive us out of recession and improve the community.
"But if businesses shut down, houses are boarded up and you can’t protect people’s interests, what will that do for people’s confidence?
“If Castlefield is seen as a warzone, what is the image we are giving to our kids? They need to be proud of the area and where they are from but people won’t want to be associated with it and won’t want to live here.”
Contact police on the 101 non-emergency enquiry line or the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111 with information.