‘How long do we have to wait for something to be done?’
Cllr Mythen calls for action on town's derelict sites
Sinn Féin councillor Johnny Mythen has blasted local businessmen who have allowed buildings in the town centre to fall into a state of dereliction. Cllr Mythen raised the issue at the last meeting of the Municipal District Council and speaking to The Guardian afterwards, he said that it's something that has been allowed to go on for far too long.
Sites which came in for particular criticism were the old Murphy Flood's site and the adjoining Irish Street Stores building, along with the old Sawyer's Pub building, previously Coogan's, on Templeshannon Quay.
'I don't mind someone getting into financial difficulty,' he said. 'But you can be in financial trouble for 14 or 15 years. The Murphy Floods site has been sitting there since 2005. How long do we have to wait for something to be done? We're constantly being told that something is coming and something is going to be done with it, but it's all only rumours. This is a town centre site and it's left like a big crater here. Sites like this are ruining their neighbourhood.'
Hoarding was previously erected around the Murphy Floods site depicting scenes from 'Brooklyn' as well as upcoming events, however, they fell victim to storm Ophelia and now the Irish Street side of the site is left covered only by metal fencing, creating a real eyesore.
Meanwhile, the hoarding that's left is advertising events that took place before Christmas, creating a poor impression for visitors to the town.
Cllr Mythen also said there's an issue with rodents on the site and while photographing the site, one passer-by remarked: 'I hope you're getting photos of the rats in there!'
Similarly, the Irish Stores building has been lying idle for over 25 years and Cllr Mythen pointed out that it is in pretty bad shape in parts, as well as being an eyesore.
'There's a lump of concrete coming away at the end there that could come down and split someone's head open,' he said.
In relation to the pub on Templeshannon Quay, which has been closed for over ten years, Cllr Mythen said that locals have expressed concerns that someone will get inside and start a fire or something similar.
Although some of these dilapidated buildings around town are listed as being for sale, and rumours have frequently circulated about them in the past, Cllr Mythen is calling out the owners in a bid to see something done.
'It's not right,' he said. 'What you get is something called land banking. People can sit on these buildings and sites and let them fall to rack and ruin and then sell them on for a profit when things like the bypass, the flood relief scheme and the Templeshannon regeneration come on stream, despite not having done anything or spent any money on them.'
'I've raised this issue several times with the council, but it feels like I'm beating my head off a stone wall. It's time something was done.'