Sunday, 17 July 2011

Keeping up appearances

Outside 60-61 Eversfield Place
Living on the seafront I walk along the promenade most days. I enjoy looking at the sea – it’s different every day and as interesting when it is stormy as when it is a still as a millpond. I love looking out at the small boats in-shore and the larger ones on the horizon. In the evening you can see the warning light appearing and then disappearing again as it revolves off Beachy Head.

But what really warms my heart is seeing scaffolding going up on the promenade buildings. These mainly Victorian frontages are the shop window of our town. If a shop window looks scruffy and uncared for do you venture into the shop. If our front line looks tatty and derelict potential investors or people wanting to move here might just keep driving till the coast road takes them out of the borough.

So I celebrate every time I see new scaffolding going up – it means work is going to start on improving our shop window.

At the moment the Queen’s Apartments (the old Queen’s Hotel) has scaffolding up, as does the huge Marine Court. Number 60-61 Eversfield Place (a problem building for some time) has extensive work going on.

And I know these buildings and a whole list of others have all been targeted at different times by the council ‘grotbusters’. Some years ago we set them the task of keeping our shop window up to scratch and they have done just that – taking reluctant owners to court, even organising the work in default and sending the owner the bill.

Four hundred and ninety eight properties have been improved following a ‘grotbuster’ intervention – from an initial friendly letter to court appearances.

On just one day recently 13 enforcement notices were issued by the ‘grotbusters’ in relation to 12 Eversfield Place to make sure every aspect and every one with an interest were covered.

Obviously keeping up appearances of the shop window is important but the ‘grotbusters’ do get involved in planning enforcement matters around the town. Only recently an enforcement notice was pinned up on the front door of the empty and very shabby Halton post office and it has unearthed an owner so hopefully something will start happening.

Of course on my seafront walks I note down any buildings that look run down and contact the ‘grotbusters’ myself. But just in case you think I must live a very sad life looking for derelict buildings that’s not all I do on my promenades. I also report in any litter, flytipping or flyposting too. In fact with a mobile phone I can take a photo of the offending site and e-mail it in to the appropriate council department.

I seriously urge all residents to do the same – whether by phone, e-mail or personally dropping in to the Town Hall report it and the council will take action.

Keeping the buildings and streets throughout the town looking good is something we can and should all be part of.