Residents demand council takes action on derelict property

By Gazette Reporters

EYESORE: The rear of the derelict house on Withernsea’s South Promenade

FRUSTRATED residents are demanding that the council take action over a derelict property on Withernsea’s promenade. 

The end terrace property is adjacent to the field at the rear of the caravan park on South Promenade. It has stood empty for many years. 

It has a spectacular sea view, and over the years has attracted a lot of interest from would-be buyers. However, it continues to moulder away, unmaintained and slowly disintegrating. 

“I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve asked me about this house,” said neighbour Barney Cornwell. “After all, it’s on a prime site and has a sound brick-built garage at the rear, so if it was refurbished it would make a really fine house. 

And it’s hugely desirable – there’s a tremendous amount of interest in it.” 

Gazette columnist Bill Jardine, who has written to the council about the state of the property said: “We’ve been here for seven years and in that time it’s never been occupied. I’ve seen the owner twice when he’s come for visits, but that’s all. 

“It’s long been a cause of concern. The council was contacted by Mr Cornwell about its condition a few years back because of fears of vermin infestation. It was inspected by them, but nothing was done.” 

However, matters came to a head when the property was burgled and trashed two years ago - twice in a matter of days intruders broke in the house, and also to the garage at the rear, which at that time contained two cars. 

Steel shutters were put up over the doors and lower windows to prevent any repetition. Neighbours understandably expected that this would trigger action by the council. 

Mr Jardine said: “There was no shortage of rumours of impending action. The first was that the owner had been told to put the property up for sale, and then the word was that the council had bought it.” 

But nothing happened, and the property deteriorated even further. It became even more dilapidated and the grass and weeds at the front are now over a metre high. 

Most of the owners are elderly and feel vulnerable. One lady said: “I don’t sleep well at night after the break-in and the slightest noise wakens me. There’s no guarantee that intruders won’t get in again – and if it was set on fire the whole terrace would be at risk.” 

However, hopes that the council would take action in the near future look to be dashed. 

Mr Jardine recently contacted East Riding Council to ask what was happening about the property.

Their response set out in some detail the numerous options open to the local authority, but, said Mr Jardine, “there’s absolutely no indication that they intend to exercise any of them in the foreseeable future.”

One sentence in the council’s response particularly irritated Mr Jardine: ‘…..we could arrange for the owner to cut the grass in the front garden, but we are mindful that the garden is partly screened by a brick wall and the house located in an area where passing traffic (either pedestrian or vehicular) is limited.’ 

“This is meaningless gibberish from the Donald Trump school of spin,” he said.

“It’s on the promenade, passed by literally hundreds of people on a sunny day – how can that possibly constitute ‘limited’?” 

“If they can’t even get the grass cut, what chance is there that they’ll address the main problem?” 

Mr Cornwell pointed out: “There should be no vehicular traffic at all, since it’s a pedestrian-only area which is chained off – or it would be if the chain actually had a padlock on it. 

“The fact that it doesn’t is part of the reason why so many pavers have been damaged by vehicles driving over them. 

“If the council’s ability can’t even stretch to fitting a padlock, their failure to address the problem of Number 92 is hardly surprising.” 

The council ‘hoping to pursue alternative options’ without any indication of actual action on its part has done nothing to address the concerns raised by the neighbours. 

Mr Cornwell said: “The promenade is the jewel in Withernsea’s crown, and it’s utterly shameful that this eyesore should continue to blight it.” 

Ward Councillor Lyn Healing expressed her disappointment over the lack of progress. 

“I’ve been on this case for two years and, like the residents, am disappointed at the continual delay in taking action to resolve it. 

“As ward councillor, I should have been copied into the emails sent to Mr Jardine, and I will certainly be asking questions of the officers concerned to find out why I wasn’t.”