To Brinkburn Road on Friday evening to convene a site meeting regarding the state of the now-derelict offices adjoining the Darrowby Drive estate.
My portfolio as Cabinet Member for Health and Leisure includes responsibility for environmental health. So when I was contacted by local councillor Alex Nicholson about ongoing problems on the site, I pulled together a site meeting which involved the local councillors, Council officers, and representatives from the Police, Fire Brigade and the Warden service.
It's fair to say that the scene at the offices took me aback - the substantial four-storey building has been comprehensively trashed by youths, with virtually every window smashed and debris lying everywhere. Residents on the nearby Darrowby Drive estate have clearly put up with a great deal.
Worse, it's clear that organised criminals have been systematically stripping the Whessoe building and the adjacent vacant Studio complex of metal and wiring for scrap.
Positively, the meeting heard that the owners of the site are taking the problem seriously, and have installed permanent security personnel. A substantial temporary fence is going to be erected around the perimeter soon. In the meantime, we agreed to press the company to install CCTV on the building to either catch or deter potential vandals and thieves. The relevant legal notices have been served promptly by the officers to ensure that the building is made secure. The Police and wardens will respond very promptly to reports of break-ins and trouble.
The message I tried to get across via the Echo this morning was that this site is not a playground - it's a death trap, something the fire officer confirmed. Local parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing when they're out, and dissaude them strongly from visiting the building. A few years ago we had a tragedy at the Cattle Market with children fooling about on the roofs there, and I would hate to see something similar repeated on this occasion.