A COMPANY has been forced to employ 24 hour security to keep people out of the wreckage of the arson hit Esplanade pub.

The road has been diverted to stop drivers getting too close to the remains after the pub was set on fire for a sixth time.

On the last occasion, on December 22, the arsonists finally managed to destroy the site.

The traffic management plan is likely to remain for the foreseeable future along Eastern Esplanade on the seafront.

Beyond the Box Developments Ltd is due to clear the site and neighbouring Marriott’s Fish and Chip Shop to redevelop it into an apartment block.

Director James Struth said: “For the first day after the fire we had a security team stationed for an hour on the day.

“However, we had to step this up to 24 hour security as the safety risks were too great.

“There’s lots of rubble and damage left and the remaining structure is unstable. It’s been cordoned off but we needed the security to ensure safety.

“I am just absolutely amazed they managed to set it on fire. It’s been hit so many times. I’d been in the building since the previous fire which happened in November, and at that point there was hardly anything left.

“It had been leaking with rainwater, it was damp, so it would have been very hard to set alight. They must have put in a lot of effort to get it started.”

Councillor James Courtenay, deputy leader of the council, said: “We have been able to reopen additional parking spaces once again, and we will relay further information once all parking restrictions have been removed. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Mr Struth said the fire has not impacted the work planned to redevelop the site, which was given planning permission in August. Work is expected to begin on the site in February. Mr Struth said security will remain in place.