TV property guru’s ‘ghost towns’ fight

George Clarke (right) of Channel 4's 'Great Property Scandal'
George Clarke (right) of Channel 4's 'Great Property Scandal'
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RESTORATION Man George Clarke has called on Wearside communities to show a willingness to solve the problem of empty homes.

The Washington-born TV star was appointed as an independent advisor on empty homes by the Government last April in the wake of his Great British Property Scandal campaign.

A year on, he says he is still as keen to see the back of what he dubbed “ghost towns”.

He also revealed that he will meet a group looking at restoring empty homes in Sunderland.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but I’m not going to give up on it,” he said.

“I have been successful in some areas and hugely unsuccessful in others. There are days when I feel like banging my head on a Victorian brick wall, but others when something amazing happens. But there’s only so much the Great British Property Scandal campaign can do. It’s up to people now to say ‘Right, we’re going to deal with the problem in our area’. Rather than me banging on about it, I want to see people getting on with it.”

The Amazing Spaces presenter said the scale of the job was huge and would take many years to solve.

He said: “The difficulty in some areas has been councils who don’t have the resources or sometimes the willingness. It can be difficult for them to get out of the red tape and box-ticking but they are trying and I take my hat off to them.

“We’ve got a massively long way to go, and it’s not one person like me that’s going to do it in a year or two. But I’m an optimist, and hopefully not a deluded optimist.

“This is a lifelong commitment. I hope I’m not still talking about it when I’m 65 because that will mean we’ve failed, but I’ll still be talking about it for the next 10 years.

“As long as people want me to do this role, then I’ll do it.

“And as long as there are people who are desperate for homes, then I will keep pushing.”