A company which let an arson-hit building become a blight on a Sunderland community has been fined.
NE30 Land Ltd was served with a series of notices from Sunderland City Council urging it to take action over the former bingo hall on The Green, in Southwick, which was wrecked by a blaze back in February last year.
The company has now been convicted at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court for failure to comply with its Enforcement Notice to improve the land.
The firm, which could not be contacted for comment, was fined £500 and told to pay £684 costs.
Deputy council leader, Coun Michael Mordey, said the company had said it does not have sufficient funds to pay for the demolition of the building and was waiting for the insurance claim to be settled, but hoped that would soon be resolved and cash could be released to cover cost of clearing the site.
Coun Mordey added: “I would like to make it clear where informal approaches fail to have the desired effect, the council has powers under the Town and Country Planning Act requiring owners to repair properties, which adversely affect the amenities of the area.
“These powers are directed towards buildings in prominent locations, which have fallen into an advanced state of disrepair, ensuring that the council’s resources are directed where they are most needed to maximise the benefits to its communities.
“As can be seen here, the council can and will use its powers.”
Lib Dem campaigner for Southwick, Bill Meeks, said businesses nearby hope the land will be turned into a free car park to boost trade.
He added: “A £500 fine for the owners of the hall will be of little comfort to the elderly people having to walk up the bus lane of Beaumont Street and who are unable to use the bus stop in the pouring rain or those sick of flytipping around the back which has produced vermin.
“Southwick has a proud past and I want The Green to be somewhere we can be proud of once again - but this latest debacle with the derelict bingo hall standing empty for over a year is just another example of Southwick being let down and forgotten by the council.”
But Coun Alex Samuels, who represents the ward for Labour, said: “The site is not owned by the council and the owners do not have the money to clear it.
“Since the fire, Labour councillors have been working closely with residents and council officers to get the site cleared as soon as possible.
“We have had to do this in accordance with the law, which is quite right but also incredibly frustrating because of the timescales involved.”