Children are putting themselves at risk by playing in one of Fife’s most dilapidated buildings.
Youngsters have been spotted inside the former Post Office in Newport, which has been boarded up for more than 30 years.
It is one of more than 200 Fife properties on Historic Environment Scotland’s Buildings At Risk Register and is described as being in very poor condition.
And there are fears for the safety of youngsters who use it as a playground.
Liberal Democrat councillor Jonny Tepp says the building’s roof has partially collapsed.
But despite several attempts to secure it, and the old shop next door, children are still getting in.
“There’s a danger children will get seriously hurt,” he said.
“There’s also a danger of masonry falling into the street.
“And apart from anything else, it’s not very nice for the local community and the business opposite to look at.”
‘Dangerous and an eyesore’
Mr Tepp is joined in his call for action by fellow councillor Tim Brett.
But they say the building’s owner is only required to ensure it is safe.
“As far as we understand they are under no compulsion to do anything beyond that,” Mr Tepp said.
“To our minds, keeping it safe ought to include ensuring children can’t get into it.”
Fife Council has previously contacted the site owner and advised them to erect Heras fencing and remove falling slates, which they did.
But Mr Tepp said it wasn’t enough.
“The fence is no sooner up than down and the roof looks no safer to the man in the street,” he said.
“This is a sad story. The properties were part of the history of Newport but the current state of affairs is both dangerous and an eyesore.”
Cost to society
According to the Buildings At Risk Register, demolition consent was sought in 2019 but never used.
Because it is not residential, the building is not liable for council tax.
And it has now been empty for so long it is registered as being of “nil value”.
“This means that as well as being unsightly and posing a risk, it’s going to cost society if anything goes wrong,” said Mr Tepp.
“The developer is just sitting on it and doesn’t have to pay a penny bean towards it.”
The councillors’ concerns follow a similar issue in Lundin Links.
However, it that case, the site’s owner has pledged to begin work before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Fife Council has been discussing longer-term possibilities for the Newport site with the owner.
Garry Nicoll, acting service manager building standards and public safety, said: “The powers available to the building standards and public safety team relating to dangerous buildings are set out by the Scottish Government.
“These powers can be used to require that measures are taken to make the building safe, and/or prevent access.”
This applies if the building itself is deemed dangerous, he said.
Mr Nicoll added that unauthorised access by what he termed ‘urban explorers’ was a matter for the police.
“We will contact the owners if we are aware of unauthorised access to their premises but we do not have any enforcement powers in these circumstances,” he said.