Friday, April 22, 2011

Dino's is now extinct

It has taken years, but our hard work and persistence has finally paid off.

I have a pile of correspondence that fills a whole ring-binder about this derelict club on Deane Road, Kensington (not far from my beloved cemetery). A lovely street with several listed buildings dating back hundreds of years, as well as some splendid Victorian terraces, it has been blighted for a very long time by this scruffy failed nightclub.

We have been working very hard with the HMRI (Housing Market Renewal Initiative) HIT team for five years to see this removed.

With our support and the urgings of local residents, the owner of Dino's has been served with all sorts of legal notices, I wont bore you with all the details but finally we were able to take action "in default". What this means is that the council paid for a demolition firm to remove this eyesore but has put a "charge" on the land so that it can recoup tax-payers monies in due course from the owner.

There were all sorts of hold-ups with council lawyers leaving and the case not being passed on, legal notices running out, having to start from scratch more than once as the owner moved the "goal posts" or promised to take action which he didn't then follow through.

And then when we were ready to knock it down, and had found the money to do so, we found more issues around sorting out the disconnection of the power supplies. There was a further hiccup when we found asbestos which had to be removed on a special licence. But in the last few days of March 2011 the club was finally cleared away.

What is really sad about this story is that the LibDem Tory Coalition Government has scrapped HMRI so all the great work that they have done over the last 10 years will now come to an end. If there is a scruffy empty or derelict house in your street, who will now force action upon the owners?

Yes, there have been controversies around some of the mass clearance Pathfinder areas, but what has never been in any doubt has been the value they have brought when forcing owners to restore and rejuvenate individual derelict and empty properties that were like "bad teeth" in otherwise perfectly good streets. I am not talking about the Edge Lane demolitions here, I am talking about single properties here and there across the HMRI area that have been sorted by this team.

There is a house on Carstairs Road for instance that was derelict and is now a beautiful family home again, likewise they leaned on the owners of the old police flats on Edge Grove until they were brought back into use and tidied up. There are far too many to list, but at least 50 in Kensington and Fairfield alone I would guess have been tackled.

On a few occasions when all else failed, they have taken steps to demolish buildings, and this was one of those.

They have been the best, most responsive, most helpful and committed team within the council that I have worked with in five years. If you used a free community skip in your area, the chances are that it was paid for by this team. If you had special measures introduced to your home to keep you safe while the area was changing - cameras, barbed wire, reinforced doors etc, then this was probably sorted by the team. If you have had a survey about insulation or better heating, it was probably their healthy homes team that provided it, if you have reported concerns about a dodgy landlord who was letting his tenants live in squalor that failed health and safety inspections, then you should be pleased that it was this team that sued them and made them bring those properties up to scratch for vulnerable tenants. And if you have been made aware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (and perhaps heard my long running public safety advert on Radio City), then you have been helped by this team of dedicated staff.

What a travesty to end their good work, what a disgraceful act by this Coalition Government.

As he notified me of the final demolition of Dino's, the Public Protection team leader, said to me "I am glad that one of our last triumphs through the hard work of both the HMRI HIT and the Vacant and Dilapidated Properties Teams will be the demolition of Dino's. There were times I must admit when I feared that it was not going to happen because it was one of those cases where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, however we got there in the end.

Please express my thanks to your constituents for their patience and understanding while we were trying to deal with the Dino's issue and I am glad we were able in the end to resolve it for them."

And my message back to the staff is this; Thank you for everything you have done for our area, five years ago there was blight and dereliction across the area, now there is a real and visible improvement and we know only too well the part you have played. Good luck in all that you do in the future and take our best wishes with you, you have left behind a legacy of improvement that we are all truly grateful for.

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