Belfast Telegraph

Councils told to act on derelict properties

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Councils in Northern Ireland must get tough on landlords whose properties fall into dangerous disrepair, the environment minister said.

During question time at the Assembly, Alex Attwood called for local authorities to flex their muscles when tackling blight caused by dereliction.

“It is not my view that all councils are measuring up,” the minister said. “Now, there may be issues for that — resources; understanding of the law; and a lack of confidence in deployment in legal reference that they have. Whatever the reasons, if they have mechanisms in order to go after those owners who are on the wrong side of maintaining a property in a fit and proper way, they should.”

The minister praised Belfast City Council which has established a team to seek out and deal with crumbling properties posing a risk to public health.

He also acknowledged Coleraine Borough Council which helped with a £400,000 spruce-up of Portrush and Portstewart ahead of this summer's Irish Open golf tournament.

Mr Attwood added: “Belfast City Council are the trail-blazers in terms of using the powers they have to deal with the issues of safety, nuisance and dereliction.”

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