LEIGH’s thriving marine industry will get a boost this summer with the rebuilding of a fishing co-op which was destroyed by arsonists.

The Leigh Fisherman’s Co-operative was gutted by fire in September. The charred building’s remains in High Street, Old Leigh, have been left untouched ever since, leaving residents wondering about the future of the council-owned site.

However, Peter Wexham, Lib Dem councillor for Leigh ward has now confirmed architects have been appointed to draw up plans for a new building which he hopes will open within months.

He said: “The building has insurance and the council is drawing up plans to rebuild it. Hopefully it will be in this year’s budget. The council will pay for it initially and recoup the cost from the insurance company.

“We have planned for this summer and expect to rebuild it entirely. Architects’ drawings are being done now. “

Old Leigh and Chalkwell were shrouded in smoke as flames consumed the 109-year-old fisherman’s co-op on September 3.

A fire report obtained by the Echo reveals the building could have been burning for up to two hours before the fire was discovered.

The loss of weather-boarded building on Victoria Wharf came as a blow to local fishermen.

Leigh fisherman Paul Gilson, 65, welcomed the latest news, he said: “It is not just good news for the fishermen but good for the town.

“Visitors come to see an active port, with fresh fish locally caught for sale. It shows off what we can do, catch it, land it and then eat it no air miles or transportation involved. A sustainable fishery.

“The sooner it is rebuilt the better, at present some parts of Old Leigh looks rundown re building will put new life into it. While it is closed several people are out of work.”