WORK is progressing well at the torched Dream Lounge as the club is due to be handed back to the owners next month.
On Friday, Faisal Qaddus, 27, of Amber Court, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered at Swindon Crown Court.
In July of last year, Qaddus reversed a car into the front of the club on Victoria Road and doused it with petrol before setting it alight while the owner, Peter Rogers, was inside.
The court heard how Qaddus had targeted the club the year before by attacking the windows of the building with a hammer.
Damage to the club has been extensive, and repair work to the structure is only now beginning to see some results, after the ceilings and walls have had to be ripped out and replaced.
But the skeleton of what will be the new Dream Lounge is now almost complete, and Peter is looking forward to giving it a new lease of life.
“My daughter was there for a progress meeting last week, and things are going very smoothly,” he said.
“The target is the end of February for the builders to be finished, and then they will be handing over control to us so we can do our bit.
“Everything downstairs has had to be stripped out, and the ceilings and walls have had to be replaced. There was a lot of damage in there. We have done some alterations to the layout of the building, opening it up more and moving the bar.
“Because we have got a blank canvas we have decided to make some changes.
“We have got a lot of ideas we want to put in place, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do it.
“There is a silver lining here somewhere, but we would have preferred for this not to have happened of course.
“It will be keeping its name, but the logo will be changing because we will be exploiting the fire. The name will be the same, but the logo will be a woman made up of flames.”
Peter added he disputed the speculation in court that the reasons Qaddus targeted his club was because he thought what went on inside was sinful.
“If he has a grievance against the industry as a whole, why has he just targeted our club?” he asked.
“If I have got a problem with something I do not go and set fire to it. He is wholly culpable for his actions, and I do think the sentence should have been harsher.
“He has already served six months and he has only got a four year sentence, so he could be back out again in 18 months with good behaviour.
“What he has done is baffling, and I just want to know where his head was at the time. Just because he has some problems does not mean he can go around doing what he likes.
“There is always a chance he is going to come back to us after he is released, and there is nothing we can do about that.
“I would just like to sit down and talk to him. I would not exactly welcome him with open arms, but I want to find out what his reasons were.”