Arson victim describes attacks as 'cowardly'
A Middlesbrough councillor whose car was set alight by arsonists has hit back at those responsible.
In attacks carried out over the Jubilee weekend, two councillors' cars were torched in the early hours.
Councillor Geoff Cole said his wife only woke up when flames spread to the guttering of his house.
He said: "Arson is a cowardly, indiscriminate crime with no control over the outcome."
Police and council officials investigating the arson attacks in Coulby Newham and Linthorpe are treating the incidents as linked.
Mr Cole, who chairs the authority's planning committee, said his wife woke up when she heard a car alarm and saw flames through the curtains.'Half asleep'
He said: "At first she thought it was the front of the house on fire, but then realised it was her car.
"Still half asleep, we went downstairs and opened the front door to be met by a firefighter who told us to go back inside and close the door.
"We could see and smell toxic fumes from the fire coming through a vent in the door so we went back upstairs until we were told it was safe to come back down.
"Arson is a cowardly, indiscriminate crime with no control over the outcome and whose consequences can be fatal.
"Fortunately the speedy arrival of the fire brigade stopped the fire spreading to the house."
Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon described the attacks as a "cowardly assault on democracy" and labelled those responsible as "political obsessives".
The council is to hold a special meeting on 20 June to discuss other instances of harassment and intimidation.