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Dereliction problem ‘despicable’

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LEVY NEEDED Cllr Damien Ryan wants levies on vacant site property owners to be increased further.

Oisín McGovern

THERE have been calls for a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to dereliction after it was revealed that there are 150 derelict sites in the Claremorris/Swinford Municipal District.  
Of these, 41 sites - 27 per cent of the total - were graded as being in ‘very poor condition’.  A total of 90 sites (60 percent) were in a ‘prominent location’.
The figures were revealed during a presentation on dereliction at last week’s meeting of councillors from the Claremorris/Swinford Municipal District.
Half of the sites surveyed by the council had deteriorated since the last review and had faults with painting, roofs, gutters and vegetation.
Thirty-eight percent of the sites had roofs that needed addressing, while a further 61 per cent had issues with the doors and windows.
In addition, 57 new sites had been identified to be place on the Derelict Sites Register, with 80 per cent of these registrations already complete.
Senior executive engineer for the Claremorris/Swinford area Conrad Harley told councillors that compulsory purchase orders had been commenced on four sites in the district.
Mr Harley said that Mayo County Council had set up a working group to deal with the issue of vacancy and dereliction on a county-wide basis.  
He said that the council would continue to use existing legislation to encourage owners to bring vacant properties back into use.

Blight on communities
COUNCILLORS from the area hit out at the amount of dereliction in the county, with Cllr Tom Connolly branding it as ‘despicable’.
Cllr Connolly, who had called for the update on dereliction in Claremorris, demanded that more action be taken to address the problem.
His calls were backed up by fellow Fine Gael councillor Michael Burke, who called the problem ‘a blight on our communities’.
Cllr Damien Ryan called for the levy on vacant sites to be increased as high as 10 percent to make property owners ‘dispose or develop’ vacant sites.
Cllr Ryan welcomed the actions taken by the council to address dereliction and demanded a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the problem.
The Fianna Fáil councillor complained that a number of sites had ‘escaped the net’ of the Derelict Sites Register and said that all derelict sites should be subject to the same sanctions.
“We are receiving constant representations in relation to what we are doing about a small number of sites that are particularly prominent,” he said.
Cathaoirleach, Cllr John Cribbin, said dereliction was widespread throughout the county.
Cllr Cribbin took aim at one prominent vacant site in Ballyhaunis, which he slammed as ‘an embarrassment to me as a councillor, and to the town’.
Responding to a question from Independent councillor Richard Finn, Mr Harley said the length of the CPO process depends on whether or not there is cooperation from the owner.
“If there’s an agreement on all sides it can happen very fast, and if there is an absolute objection from one side it can take a while to go through,” Mr Harley said.

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