Anger over house lying empty for six years

Councillor Burrows outside the empty house in Newlands Road.
Councillor Burrows outside the empty house in Newlands Road.

Anger is growing that a former council house has lain empty for more than six years while families are ‘desperate’ for homes.

North Lanarkshire Council wants to buy back the semi-detached property in Newlands Road, Birkenshaw, but says the owner won’t negotiate despite having to pay double council tax because the house is not occupied.

Meanwhile, neighbours in the quiet, otherwise well-kept street are fed up with having the unsightly, boarded-up house on their doorstep.

One said: “It’s not nice seeing that every day when you open your curtains. This is a nice street and everyone tries to keep their place tidy.

“A lot of people have been interested in buying the house and have asked neighbours about it, but there has been no For Sale sign up.”

The owner of the house is believed to live abroad and local councillor Bob Burrows said he has refused to sell the property back to the local authority.

Councillor Burrows said: “It’s a shocking situation and I have complete sympathy with the people who live in Newlands Road.

“It highlights the fact there is insufficient legislation in place in Scotland to deal with something like this as we cannot force the owner to sell.

“We have 16,000 people on our council house waiting list and we are keen to buy this property and put it back into the rented sector.

“People have contacted me about the property - people who are desperate for a house - but the council can’t force the owner to sell to us.”

More on this story in the Bellshill Speaker, on sale now.