Fighting to end Holywood building collapse saga

1 Stewart's Place, Holywood with road partially closed
I have been continuing the fight to end the saga associated with collapse of 1 Stewart’s Place building in Holywood with the nearby road remaining partially closed for nearly five months following the collapse of the historic building.

Following initial collapse on 21 July 2016 a saga has unfolded with the Bangor Road fully closed for six weeks only to be replaced by traffic lights which still remain in place today, impeding access to Holywood Town Centre. Whilst one side of the building has been shored up the other side remains fully exposed to the elements with further bits of masonry falling off in recent days.

After endless delays and hollow promises of action I was sadly left with no other option but to bring a motion to our local Council calling for action. It is extremely frustrating to witness no further progress on the issue despite Ards and North Down having new powers to intervene. Recent news that the building is now infested with rats who have been scurrying into local homes merely adds fuel to the sense of anger felt by many, compounded by news nothing seemingly can be done to deal with the rat infestation because the building is considered unsafe. Local residents and businesses have suffered for too long with this enduring saga which is fast becoming a scandal and byword for inaction, buck passing and shrugging of shoulders.

I was therefore glad to receive unanimous support from the Council’s Environment Committee on Wednesday 7 December 2016 for my Motion calling upon officers to bring back a range of options to rectify the situation and urging Transport NI to use their influence to end the owners right to keep the road partially closed.

Whilst full responsibility remains with the building’s owner who has shamefully neglected to sort the issue and inflicted great inconvenience upon Holywood without seemingly a shred of embarrassment Council’s responsibility in relation to this matter must extend beyond mere merely Health and Safety duties. With new powers to serve Urgent Works Notices Ards and North Down Borough Council has the tools available and should not stand idly by whilst trade is damaged, visitors turn away from Holywood Town Centre during the busy Christmas Shopping Season, rats infiltrate local people’s homes and a Listed Building slowly disintegrates.