PROTESTERS have blocked the burnt-out remains of the Crooked House – after contractors moved in to remove rubble where the pub once stood.
Work has reportedly begun to clear bricks at the site of the West Midlands pub two weeks after it was gutted by a suspected arson attack.
But yesterday afternoon a sit-down protest on the lane leading to the pub stopped a lorry from reaching it.
Local Jane Baker, 59, said: "We're doing this, and all the people who have arrived today, because we care very much about our heritage, our history and the Crooked House.
"She's always stood there at the bottom of this lane. She means a lot to us all.
"What's happened is wrong and we need to make a stand, all of us."
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She added: "We just want her back where she was. It's affected all of us, far and wide.
"We just want it rebuilt – by hook or by crook.
"We're making a stand for a very iconic building. This is why we are sitting in the road."
Resident Bethany Carpenter told the BBC: "There's a lack of transparency and communication and we've had to really fight today for answers – and to get to the truth.
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"We're worried that perhaps something might happen, that they'll demolish the whole thing and get rid of the foundations.
"That would make it an impossible situation for anything to be rebuilt."
South Staffordshire Council said: "The council is aware of a contractor onsite and is engaging with the site owners and contractors to investigate what works are taking place.
"We are still currently ascertaining all the facts so cannot comment any further on this specific matter.
"The council is still investigating the full incident and formalising next steps.
"We cannot comment on any element of the ongoing investigation, so that we do not potentially prejudice our enforcement action.
"We will provide updates on our website as soon as we are able."
Staffordshire Police said: "We are aware of a small protest earlier in the day at Himley as we continue to investigate an arson attack at The Crooked House.
"At 1.26pm yesterday, we received reports that a group of protestors had turned up at the site.
"Local officers are currently in attendance as a precaution and to reassure the community.
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"We recognise the strength of local feeling following the loss of a significant cultural landmark.
"Our investigation is live and ongoing. A CCTV trawl, forensics and witness accounts continue to be worked through as we try to piece together the circumstances which led to the fire."
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