A COUNCIL HOUSE which has been lying vacant for over a year has been severely damaged but Wicklow Town Council isn't in a position to fund the repairs at the moment.
Speaking at last week's council meeting Cllr. Gareth O'Reilly said a house in Broadlough Estate has been lying empty for over a year and during this time has been severely damaged.
He wondered why it was taking the council so long to do the repair and allocate the house when the housing list is so full.
Cllr. Gail Dunne said 'it has now developed into a dump and the windows are not even boarded up properly'.
He acknowledged that the estate had been ' up in arms' because of ' the rumours of who was going to move in' and accepted that was ' no fault of the council' but said 'if we leave a house a long time people are going to break into it.
'It is especially disappointing because the house was left in good condition and now we have no money for repairs.
'We have 20 houses we can't get into proper condition. The amount of houses we can't put people into is a disgrace.'
Town manager Mike Nicholson said 'it's very very seldom that we can immediately turn around a house but if we can do it we will.
'We generally always have to do something. It would be ideal if houses came back to us in mint condition but it's rare.'
He said he wasn't happy with the length of time it was taking for houses to be allocated but said the council was constrained by its budget.
In terms of the house in Broadlough he said ' Broadlough was vacant while we were getting around to it. I don't accept that it's inevitable that it will be wrecked. Who goes into a house and wrecks it?
'I thought we lived in a civilised society and I can't understand why anyone would go into a house and wreck it.
'Sometimes it suits people to have houses wrecked because they hear rumours of people getting the house.'
But he acknowledged that it is taking too long to allocate houses and accepted that the council is losing rent as houses lie vacant.
' The council will redouble its efforts. It may come to a situation in the near future were we offer houses as is. I don't like doing it but if we have to do it we will.'
Cllr. Irene Winters said 'I think it's wrong that when people hear rumours they feel they can destroy property belonging to someone else. I think it's a disgrace and I think it's because there are no repercussions and they feel they can get away with it.'
Cllr. Conal Kavanagh said with the days of town councils numbered ' perhaps the council could come up with some accounting gymnastics to redirect resources from the county to ensure a quicker turnaround' while Cllr. Mervyn Morrison pointed out the county council will inherit the town council's housing stock.
Cllr. Pat Byrne suggested that tenants taking houses with outstanding repairs could be given a reduction on their rent.