Police are treating a fire at Wheatley Hill Greyhound Track on Sunday night as ‘suspicious’.

The County Durham track which was built by the Fanon family seems unlikely to re-open leaving the North East without an independent track for the first time in more than 70 years. Earlier this year, nearby Easington closed and is being redeveloped for housing.

Twenty five years ago, there were seven independent tracks within 25 miles of each other. Sunderland and Pelaw Grange both switched to ‘licensed’ racing. Others to have disappeared were Spennymoor, Stanley and Hartlepool.