By Community Reporter Rianna Newman
The future of the popular Knowle West Carol Bus is under threat after the vehicle was gutted by an arson attack.
Police and firefighters were called to the scene in the early hours of Saturday 20 December. The bus had been set on fire while parked in Barnstaple Road – following its annual festive drive around the area.
The decorated bus, which plays carols throughout its journey, has been a local fixture for the past five years. Supported by local groups and volunteers, it helps to raise money for the Filwood Community Centre roof fund.
Chair of Community in Partnership (CIP) Denise Britt said she was “shocked and angry” and there was now a possibility the Carol Bus would not run again this year.
She said: “I think it’s terrible …It isn’t just about the bus; it’s the hassle, the upset. It isn’t fair – the people that do those things don’t realise the consequences of what they do…
“People on the CIP board are local volunteers and they all work hard…when things like this happen it takes away from all the good.”
For the past two years the bus has been loaned to the Community Centre by the E5 City Church in Knowle.
Pastor Pete Millward said it had been “a write off” and they were not in a “position to replace it” at the moment but it was going through insurance.
He told the Knowledge: “It was used for a whole range of things especially mums and toddlers, youth groups or community trips out.
“We wouldn’t want this incident to distract from the fact it was a fantastic event. Many people from the community were able to come and enjoy the carol service and we plan to continue serving the community in any way we can.”
An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: “We can confirm we were called to reports of a minibus on fire in Barnstaple Road at around 4am on Saturday December 20 2014.
“The incident has been investigated and there are currently no further lines of enquiry. We would ask anyone who has any information or saw anything suspicious in the area at the time to please contact the Filwood Beat team on 101.”