Neglecting the Built Environment

Properties in Ravensthorpe are being abandoned and attracting vandalism. Council say they are prevented from dealing with the problem due to legal constraints. Some properties are reported as being empty and boarded up for ten years. Locals feel the problem is becoming a blight on the estate.

07:35 Wednesday 27th October 2010
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Empty houses in Ravensthorpe are causing concern for residents. They’ve been highlighted as targets for arsonists. The councillor for the ward is Gul Nawaz. He’s with me in the studio. Morning Gul.
GUL NAWAZ: Good morning.
PS: How many empty houses are there, and why are you so concerned?
GN: I am very concerned that the empty homes are a threat to life, and the problem we are facing, we keep reporting the properties have been empty, and some of the properies are boarded up for the last ten years.
PS: Ten years?
GN: Ten years, and nothing has been done. Last Christmas a property was set on fire. In Holdfield. We went last week again to have a look at it and it was still standing empty. The residents are very much concerned that it will happen again.
PS: Who owns these houses? Because it seems like an incredible waste of properties to me when people are homeless.
GN: They are private landlords. City Council are chasing them, where they live. We just don’t know. As an authority we can do a bit more, put more pressure on the private landlords. Come on. Sort these properties out. The neighbours are quite concerned that their lives are at risk.
PS: Well for the idiots that are out there these days they’re just something to play with, aren’t they?
GN: We are concerned. My fellow councillor Harry Newton is also very much concerned that anything can happen. And I think something can be done about it.
PS: How many houses roughly do you think.
GN: Myself and Harry, we are reporting on a daily basis. One or two houses we are reporting mostly a week.
PS: What can the Council do about it Gul? Have they got the power to take over these houses?
GN: Well they say they’ve got six months before they can take action. After six months they can ask, force the landlord to come back and tell us why he hasn’t done it, or rent it out. There are some homeless people. I am sure they can rent it out.
PS: Well there’s plenty of people looking for social housing. We’ve got a huge list of people in Peterborough.
GN: We’ve got some property in Brookfurlongs, boarded up for many years, Swanspool, that’s nearly ten years, Whitecross, Holdfield. Now in West Town, I reported yesterday, there are empty homes. And we just don’t know why. The authority is getting a bit behind, and I think this is a serious matter.
PS: So the Council need to do something about this quickly.
GN: Yes. In the comment they made on October 25th they said there had been a massive thirty per cent fall in arson. That was good. But I think this is a serious matter.
PS: Yes I agree. Gul, thank you for that. Gul Nawaz ward councillor for Ravensthorpe.