Bristol councillors' cars torched in late-night arson attacks
BRISTOL'S Lord Mayor and a fellow Tory councillor have both had their cars torched in separate arson attacks at their homes.
Geoff Gollop and Kevin Quartley said they were both mystified why they should have been singled out for the attacks which happened during the early hours of yesterday.
Lord Mayor Mr Gollop, who represents Westbury-on-Trym, was woken at about 2am by the light from the flames through his bedroom window as his wife's Ford Fiesta was turned into a fireball. His Toyota Prius was also set alight but did not suffer as much damage.
Mr Gollop said: "My immediate thought was the safety of my family and our neighbours. We could not get out through the front of the house because the heat was too fierce, so we had to use the back."
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He phoned his neighbours to warn them as well as calling the fire service, who rushed to the scene.
He said as he left the house from the back, he saw his car had also been set alight but was able to put out the fire with a garden hose.
The heat from the flames from the torched Fiesta was so intense, it cracked the windows of their Henleaze home.
Mr Gollop said: "I am at a total loss why anyone would want to do this. I have got absolutely no idea what the motive could possibly be.
"Kevin is one of the hardest working backbench councillors I know and I cannot imagine him causing offence to anyone.
"As for myself, I am in a position of civic responsibility as the Lord Mayor and must remain politically neutral and therefore am unable to influence any decisions. It's totally baffling."
Mr Quartley, who lives with his wife and daughter in Bishopsworth, was alerted by neighbours who phoned him between 2.30am and 3.30am to say his car was on fire.
He said: "When I looked out of the window, the car was a massive yellow fireball. Luckily, I had reversed into the drive so the seat of the fire, in the engine compartment, was furthest away from the house."
Mr Quartley alerted his next door neighbours so they could move their own car to safety.
His wife Caroline phoned the fire service who sent a crew from Bedminster and were on the scene within minutes.
Mr Quartley, who represents Bishopsworth ward, said the heat from the fire had melted the asphalt on his drive. His Ford Focus is a write-off and he has now referred the incident to his insurance company.
He said CID officers had told him they were treating both incidents as arson attacks and believed they were probably linked.
Mr Quartley said: "There was a big time gap between when I parked the car on the drive at about 10pm and when it was alight at about 2.45am – it's not normal for cars to spontaneously catch fire after they have been left standing for so long.
"It has been a shock what's happened but when you consider the awful tragedy which happened on the M5 at the weekend, it puts things like this into perspective – at least none of my family nor the Lord Mayor's family has been hurt."
Mr Quartley said he had no idea why he or the Lord Mayor had been singled out for the attacks.
He said: "I've got no idea why this has happened. I just hope that no other councillors are similarly affected."
The city council issued a statement last night on behalf of all four parties represented in the chamber. It said: "We join together, across parties, to unreservedly condemn these acts of violence. Regardless of party differences, councillors up and down the country stand for election because of a shared sense of commitment to improving the lives of their communities. Attacks such as these are cowardly and disgraceful, and we wish the investigators well in their efforts at bringing those responsible to justice. Anyone committing these acts needs to know that democracy is stronger than they are."
Anyone with information should call the police on 101.