Police investigating an arson attack at a Heckmondwike therapeutic centre for those most in need have issued images of males they wish to speak to

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The Batley and Spen Neighbourhood Policing Team would like to speak to anyone who can identify the males pictured as enquires continue into the blaze which caused significant damage to buildings at the Ponderosa centre.

Officers were called during the evening of Wednesday October 21st to a report fibreglass style domes and numerous items inside had been heavily damaged in a fire at the centre on Smithies Lane in Heckmondwike.

It is believed the fire started at about 5.14pm and officers are keen to trace a group of up to four males who were seen nearby at the time of the blaze.

The damaged domes were part of a new project at the centre, which houses a zoo, to provide creative activities and opportunities to socialise for people who may have incurable illnesses, depression, or who just need support.

Howard Cook MBE, of Ponderosa who has been developing the project, said the land the domes were housed on had always been intended to be used to assist those most in need and were filled with materials to allow creative projects such as woodwork and gardening.

He said: “When I took the land over from Yorkshire Water I made a commitment to them to make it a community project and that is exactly what I intend to do.  We have been filling it up for the last 2 to 3 years and the money we have got has gone back directly for the rehabilitation of the land enabling us to do all these projects.

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“The scheme itself is going to be called TALK.   This is so you can come and talk to us or come and do anything you want.   For example build something, plant something or even just have a cup of tea and a chat. 

There are so many people out there who suffer from serious physical and mental health conditions who don’t know where to go, what to do and don’t know how to carry on.  What we wanted to do was provide a place of respite for them.

“The dome buildings which were unfortunately burnt down last week would have been operational this year and I am still hoping to connect that into this scheme here. “

PC Lucy Ramsden of the Batley and Spen NPT:  “This arson has caused significant damage to a very worthy project set up to assist those in need of support at very dark times in their lives.  It was a completely senseless and hugely dangerous act and we are fully investigating what took place and doing what we can to support the centre.

“I would like to speak with anyone who can identify the males in these pictures or who has any information which could assist our investigation.”

Anyone who has information is asked to contact the Batley and Spen NPT on 101 referencing crime number 13200528227

Information can also be given online at or anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.