THE owner of a Blackburn business - operating in the shadow of a controversial former plastics factory - has expressed his frustration after being repeatedly targeted by thieves .

Phil Rostron, who runs Darwen Bed Centre, has been angered after his van was broken into outside the Grimshaw Park premises.

He says it is the fourth time his store and its immediate surrounding have been targeted by intruders in recent months.

And he believes that the easy access to the site, through the dilapidated old V10 Polymers plant, off Paterson Street, is leaving him a sitting target.

In the latest raid a variety of electrical equipment was taken from the van but the unwelcome visitors did not manage to break into the main building.

Mr Rostron told the Telegraph: "It's just wide open to everyone and nothing seems to be happening with the land.

"I've not even reported two of the break-ins but it's been happening all the time and it's now beyond the joke."

His concerns are similar to those expressed by Carole Davis, who runs the neighbouring Clifton Arms.

Residents have faced years of misery with the old factory, which has been hit by no fewer than four fires.

Much of the original structure has now been torn down, due to the effects of the incidents.

Security fencing has been erected at the corner of Paterson Street and Derham Street but there are gaping holes in the mesh. Old sofas have also been dumped

The Environment Agency prosecuted the site's former owner, Ribble Valley based businessman David Holt, earlier this year, for waste deposit offences.

He was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence by Judge Mark Brown at Preston Crown Court.

But with his company, Holt Developments, already having been place into liquidation, the land is now understood to be in the hands of an Isle of Man developer, which is said to have planning permission for 181 houses.

People living off nearby Highfield Road and Mosley Street have also voiced ongoing concerns about rats infesting the huge mounds of rubbish left on site.

One neighbour said: "You can see people going in there all the time to steal scrap metal and now we've got to put up with fly-tipping as well.

"But nothing is being done and that rubbish is just full of rats."