Kirkby residents in fear from empty homes vandals

One of the empty properties on Warwick Close, which has been victim of fly-tipping and vandalism.
One of the empty properties on Warwick Close, which has been victim of fly-tipping and vandalism.

Angry residents from a Kirkby estate say a street once infamous for trouble is again becoming a target for crime.

They say Warwick Close, on the Coxmoor Estate, is spiralling dramatically downward because council-owned properties are being left empty.

Some of the empty council houses on Warwick Close in Kirkby

Some of the empty council houses on Warwick Close in Kirkby

The street has been earmarked for housing development by Ashfield District Council for several years, but though a number of properties have been demolished, no further work has taken place.

The Close now has eight houses lying empty and the area has become victim to fly-tipping and vandalism, with offenders also breaking into the properties to strip them of anything worth stealing.

Resident Ben de Poorter (75) said he and wife Brenda are ‘living in fear’ of becoming victims of crime themselves.

“People have been breaking into these houses that are boarded up and taking things,” he said.

“Why do I have to live in fear all the time?”

Mr de Poorter has had hanging baskets stolen from his garden, has chased off fly-tippers who were dumping rubbish in the next-door garden and had to evacuate his property when someone broke a valve from the gas supply of the same empty property, causing a gas leak.

He and other residents are also baffled as to why new tenants have not been found for the properties as they have become vacant - especially when there are nearly 7,000 people on the Ashfield Homes’ waiting list for a council property.

“Why is perfectly good housing left empty when there’s a shortage?,” he said.

“There’s no progress been made - it looks as if they only just starting to begin to do it now.

“These things we have worked hard for all our lives are worth nothing with these properties standing empty.

“We feel let down by the council - they make all these promises all the time.”

George Slack, chairman of the Coxmoor Tenants and Residents Association, said local people are ‘sick and tired’ of the problems on Warwick Close and of getting no answers from the council about what is happening to the street.

He said: “We can’t get any answers whatsoever from Ashfield District Council as to what’s happening to these properties.

“We have got all these people wanting a property and it’s absolutely disgraceful that they can’t let us know.”

“While ever they are empty, we will get fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour,” he added.

Coun Warren Nuttall, Ashfield District Council’s portfolio member for housing, said that the authority is ‘actively progressing options’ for the regeneration of Warwick Close, which will create a ‘fresh image’ for the area.

“We are aware of the remaining empty homes on Warwick Close following the significant site clearance and environmental improvements carried out a few years ago, which were instrumental in bringing about real improvements to the appearance of the area and the levels of associated anti-social behaviour.

“Unfortunately the empty homes which are referred to fall way below decent homes standard and would require considerable investment to bring them to a condition which the council, as a responsible landlord, would want people living in.

“It would be foolish and irresponsible to commit to such investment, at least until satisfied that the houses are part of our longer term plans,” he said.

Coun Nuttall added that there are plans in the pipeline which are still being developed before they go into the public domain.

“At the appropriate time I can guarantee full and meaningful consultation with nearby residents,” he said.

“In the meantime please rest assured that Warwick Close is high on our agenda to continue our commitment to provide decent and affordable houses for our communities.”