A SUSPECTED arsonist is still at large after setting a woman’s flat on fire. 

Petrol was poured through the letter box of Sammie Richardson’s home in St Andrew’s Road, South Ham, on Monday morning. 

The property went up in flames with eight people, including a family of five, pulled from the building, just after 5.15am. 

Luckily, no one was injured and mother-of-three Sammie and her children were staying elsewhere. 

She told The Gazette the ordeal has left her feeling afraid and scared: “[Was it] a random attack or the wrong house? I don’t know. All I know is that people are so truly evil. I am exhausted. Monday was hell.”

You can see the full story in this week's paper. Also:

Weekly bin collections will resume next month as staffing levels stabilise, the council said. From August 17, residents across Basingstoke and Deane will see their recycling and household waste collected weekly. The news has been welcomed by residents who have complained about overflowing bins during the pandemic. Read the full story on page 3.

Protective screens, hand sanitiser stations and spaced out equipment are the measures gym goers can expect as fitness centres across the town reopened on Saturday. Ian Minors, managing director at Beechdown Health and Fitness, in Brighton Hill, said he was relieved to reopen and said it was the day he had been waiting for. Read the full story on page 4.

Police officers across Basingstoke “do not have the resources” to get involved when face masks are made compulsory. This is according to the chair of Hampshire Police Federation Zoe Wakefield, who said the constabulary will struggle to police the change in policy. Face masks became compulsory to wear inside shops and supermarkets on Friday. Read full story on page 5.

The number of coronavirus cases in Basingstoke has continued to fall though scientists warn nationally cases have stopped declining. Data released by Public Health England on Tuesday showed the rate of infections in Basingstoke per 100,000 residents have fallen from 1.7 to 1.1. In contrast, cities such as Blackburn and Leicester have 79.9 and 75.2 cases per 100,000 residents, comparatively. Read full story on page 6.

The borough council were preparing for over 1,000 coronavirus deaths had the government persevered with its herd immunity strategy, the council’s opposition leader has said. Cllr Andy McCormick (Labour, Brighton Hill South) revealed that Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council were looking at “a repeat of the 1918 [Spanish flu] levels of death” in March - which would have meant over one thousand fatalities in the borough.  Read full story on page 7.

Also in the week's paper: Catch up on the latest from North Hampshire's Magistrates' Courts.

Two pages of your letters to the editor.

An eight-page puzzle special.

Two flashback pages.

Two celebrations pages.

One page of sports news.

And much more!

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