Concerns are being voiced over the future of a derelict factory site in Sudbury where a fire took hold earlier this week.

Fire crews from across Suffolk and Essex were called to the blaze at the former Delphi site in Newton Road at about 5.10pm on Tuesday.

And on Wednesday police confirmed a boy, 14, had been arrested on suspicion of arson and bailed until July 6. 

Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate James Cartlidge, who had been MP for South Suffolk since 2015 before the dissolution of parliament, thanked the fire service for its response to the blaze and encouraged residents to avoid speculation while the investigation is ongoing.

East Anglian Daily Times: The blaze at the former Delphi site on TuesdayThe blaze at the former Delphi site on Tuesday (Image: Jo Collins)

He added: "In the meantime, I can imagine many people in the town will share my frustration at the lack of engagement we’ve had from the owners since the site was purchased from Delphi Diesel Systems, not replying to any of my letters.

"Whilst we cannot know exactly what caused the fire, it is clear that the state of ongoing idle use of this once thriving factory is in nobody’s interest."

East Anglian Daily Times: James CartlidgeJames Cartlidge (Image: UK Parliament)

Delphi Diesel Systems closed in mid-2020 with hundreds of job losses when the American-owned conglomerate behind the site decided to move the manufacturing operation - which made diesel fuel injectors and filters for commercial vehicles - to Romania in eastern Europe.

That same year, the site was sold to Future Properties Industrial Ltd.

According to documents on Companies House, Future Properties Industrial Ltd entered voluntary liquidation in September 2023 with Martin Halligan of Live Recoveries named as liquidator. 

Mr Halligan was unavailable for comment. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Delphi during the fireDelphi during the fire (Image: Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service)

Mr Cartlidge said he hopes the fire can encourage the restoration of the town's "industrial heartland". 

He continued: "Whoever is elected MP for South Suffolk should make it a priority to sit down urgently with Babergh’s Economic Development Department, and look at all the options to take this site forward in a way that benefits the town, rather than consigns it to continued risk and decay - as difficult as this can be with a non-responsive proprietor." 

He said the landlord seems "disinterested in the town" and that it "needs to change". 

Tom Bartleet, who is standing as prospective parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in South Suffolk, said: "As dramatic as the event was, it brings back in to focus the need for decisions to be taken about the future of the site since efforts by the South Suffolk Task force, led by our former MP, have been allowed to stall.

East Anglian Daily Times: Tom Bartleet, who is standing as candidate for the Lib DemsTom Bartleet, who is standing as candidate for the Lib Dems (Image: Tom Bartleet)

"The site cannot be allowed to remain unoccupied and now in a state of dereliction. It needs a strong local effort, with experienced business professionals focussed on driving through a solution."

Jessie Carter, who is standing as prospective parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in the area, said she was "deeply saddened" by the fire and "shocked" to hear the 14-year-old boy had been arrested. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Jessie Carter, who is candidate for the Green PartyJessie Carter, who is candidate for the Green Party (Image: Suffolk County Council)

"For many, including myself, Delphi was a beloved part of our childhood, with memories of family outings and community events," she said.

"It is a regrettable situation that the site has been left to decay, and it is clear that something needs to be done to bring new life to this once-thriving hub."

She urged the owner of the site to work with local authorities to find a solution, and that she would like to see a mixed-use development incorporating retail, office space, and community facilities.

"The future of the Delphi site is uncertain, but hopefully this incident will prompt renewed efforts to revitalize this important part of Sudbury," she added.

Beverley England, who is standing as prospective parliamentary candidate for Reform in the area, said: "A derelict site such as this can be extremely hazardous and if not being properly guarded, should possibly be demolished for safety reasons to prevent fires and vandalism, both of which can cause personal injury.

"If the site cannot be used for employment, then it would make sense for a site as large as this to be a brownfield development site for housing with small business units and sports facilities, instead of using green field development. 

"Having spoken recently to a community police officer in Sudbury one Saturday morning during market day, it appears the youth in the area have nothing to entertain themselves with during school holiday times - specifically a lack of sports fields."

Emma Bishton, who is standing as prospective parliamentary candidate for Labour, said: "Like so many of the people of Sudbury I am shocked and saddened by the hugely  destructive fire at the former Delphi site.  It's a great relief that there was no loss of life or serious injury and that's down to the professionalism and dedication of the emergency services and in particular the Fire Service.   

East Anglian Daily Times: Emma BishtonEmma Bishton (Image: Emma Bishton)

"As well as the damage to the site itself,  the fire will have caused great distress to the many people in Sudbury who worked at Delphi Diesel Systems over several decades. The site has now been empty for four years.

"There's been a lot of talk about the potential future of the Delphi site since then, but so far there's been no sign of any progress. Sudbury's just an hour’s drive from Cambridge.  With a rail connection to London, it's a town with huge potential.

"The Delphi site was previously one of the area's biggest employers.  It could be a real focus for employment and economic growth in the town.  If elected MP for South Suffolk, I will make it a priority to sit down with all stakeholders to help find a positive way forward for the site."