Fury over £200K hole in public finances

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THE public purse is out of pocket to the tune of £200,000 following the demolition of a building over ten years ago.

As legal wrangling continues over scaffolding costs at Wilton Mills in Commercial Road – which are believed to be in the region of £100,000 – the Hawick News can reveal that Scottish Borders Council is still awaiting payment for knocking down a neighbouring property.

The former St Margaret’s and Wilton South Church fell into such a state of disrepair in early 2000 that enforcement action was necessary.

But the owner of the property is still unknown, leaving SBC to foot the bill. A council spokesman said: “The extent of the dry rot meant the building had to be demolished and this was undertaken and paid for by the council due to the difficulties in establishing the owner’s details at that time. In order to recover the costs associated with the works, a charging order was placed on the property which has the effect of allowing the council to be paid at the time of any sale of the property.

“It’s the property owner that needs to sell the property – not the council – and then the council would be paid at the time of the sale.”

However, local councillor Stuart Marshall, who only recently found out about this huge bill, demanded the matter be addressed urgently after describing the area as a “rat infested dumping ground”.

He said: “I am furious to learn that after five years as a councillor this information is just being released now. We have even had site visits from the enforcement team of SBC and this information wasn’t shared then and I feel that this is quite unacceptable.”

It is understood the area in question, which was recently cleared by Hawick Community Council, is in the ownership of someone living in Fort Lauderdale, America.

However, the Hawick News can reveal that this is not the only site in the town subject to a charging order although the local authority could not pinpoint the buildings in question at the time of going to press.

Councillor Marshall added: “We have too many derelict and dangerous buildings in and around our town.”