Monday, 27 March 2017

Council defends cost of derelict site

A council which is expecting to spend more than £58,000 this year on security and a handyman for a derelict site has said it is ‘entirely justifiable’.

The Kingswear and Torpoint site in Bristol is ear marked for re-development but the recession has meant the plans have been put on hold.  

Just 10 tenants remain in the 130 flats, of which Bristol council owns 70 and Knightstone Housing Association owns 60.

Last week the local authority’s cabinet discussed the progress of the site, re-locating the remaining tenants and demolishing the blocks, with the aim of clearing the area by this summer.

But if any tenant or leaseholder refuses to move the council will need to use eviction or compulsory purchase powers, potentially delaying progress by another 18 months.

The agenda for councillors says remaining residents are ‘vulnerable and isolated, and are becoming increasingly so as time moves on’.  It adds: ‘There have been a number of incidents causing concerns over the safety of the site.

‘There have been several successful break ins to void properties, and boilers etc. have been removed.’

One break in involved a tenant being assaulted, the report states.

A spokesperson for Bristol council said: ‘We have a duty to protect the remaining residents by making the empty properties safe, by installing metal grilles, which have to be either bought or hired, and by security patrols, in order to prevent break ins and possible criminal damage or arson.

‘The figure quoted, which also includes the cost of a handyman for six hours a week, also pays for the prevention of and remedial work to address other damage such as fly-tipping and graffiti.

‘We are confident that the money spent on maintaining and protecting this site is entirely justifiable and is work well done.’

The council decided to spend £2.5 million on refurbishing the flats in 2005 but subsequently decided they might not have a ‘sustainable future’ and put this decision on hold. It has since become part of a major re-development plan in the city.

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