Derelict buildings earmarked for demolition almost TWO YEARS ago have been sheathed in scaffolding for nearly a year... and council taxpayers in Kirklees are footing the bill.
Locals claim the block of six crumbling council tenements, on the junction of Wakefield Road and Smithy Lane in Moldgreen, opposite Pizza Hut, have stood empty for more than 10 years. In September 2015 the dilapidated terrace – comprising numbers 172 to 182 – was scheduled to be knocked down.
Senior councillors on Kirklees Council’s Cabinet said it was more than half a million pounds cheaper to demolish the properties rather than spend £750,000 on refurbishment. An adjoining property, number 184, which is privately owned and also derelict, was to be compulsorily purchased and also demolished.
Scaffolding was installed last autumn as a precautionary “crash deck” to stop loose slates and stonework falling into the street following vandalism. It does not extend to number 184.
Now retired electrician Alan Farey, 67, of Kirkheaton, has made a Freedom of Information request and demanded that the council come clean over the added cost of putting up the scaffolding.
“The scaffolding went up last October. I see it every time I go past,” he said.
“I thought the council was either going to do them up or pull them down. Instead nothing has happened. It’s an absolute eyesore.
“After eight months of looking at that scaffolding I thought someone was taking the Michael. Who is paying for it? It can’t be cheap.”
In response to Mr Farey’s FoI request a spokeswoman for Kirklees Council said Lepton-based property maintenance company Geckops Ltd are “the preferred supplier” for all scaffolding required by the authority providing scaffolding to various council buildings and council-owned property “as and when required.”
She added that they are paid a composite amount each month and that “it is not broken down by individual property.”
Council accounts for 2016 show that in just one month last year Geckops received payments totalling £73,183.62.
Responding to Mr Farey’s FoI request Kirklees Council replied: “The scaffolding was installed following concerns with the roof covering, which was loose due to ongoing vandalism and in danger of falling to the ground and causing injury. The scaffolding would act as a crash deck for any roof covering falling from the roof.
“The scaffolding will remain until the demolition of the properties is completed.”
It was hoped that demolition would take place in 2016 following the purchase of number 184. However the timescale has now shifted to late 2017.