DERELICT properties in Lurgan are becoming a ‘blight on the landscape’, according to a Sinn Fein councillor.
Sinn Fein Councillor Liam Mackle said he has had to deal with a substantial number of complaints from neighbours of derelict and unkempt properties.
“Since my election two years ago I have been called on to deal with a substantial number of derelict and unkempt properties. Many of these were repossessions and have been allowed to fall into a terrible state of neglect.”
The Sinn Féin councillor used the back garden of a repossessed house in Castle Lane Mews as a prime example.
“This garden has been totally neglected and neighbours fear that with the new growing season their own gardens will again be polluted with seed from a new crop of weeds.
“I have contacted the council’s Environmental Officers but unfortunately under existing legislation their powers are limited.
“The proliferation of repossessed and unmaintained property has become a blight on our communities and if the banks and mortgage companies are not prepared to keep up the maintenance then legislation will have to be strengthened to ensure that they do.”
Mr Mackle claimed that the attitude of these large financial institutions “beggared belief”. He pointed out that the failure to maintain this real estate was further depreciating its value and the value of neighbouring homes.
He said: “The greed of these institutions brought about the collapse of the economy yet they have failed to learn from that disaster.
“Even if they have no respect for the community it is reasonable to expect them to respect their financial assets. Unfortunately the simple maxim that long term profitability is dependent on the maintenance of secure assets appears to be beyond them.”
The councillor is now calling for banks, mortgage lenders and other owners of empty buildings to keep their premises and surrounding grounds in reasonable order. He added that this could be achieved via tighter legislation which would force banks and other institutions to maintain repossessed buildings.