Senseless vandalism continues

GROUNDHOG DAY: Lachie Tye of Tye’s Plumbing Service sweeps up glass on Commercial Street outside the vacant Fidler and Webb building after vandals smashed doors and windows. Picture: BRITTANY DENTON

VANDALS continue to target the dilapidated Fidler and Webb building in the heart of the city, which has been described as a “blight” on the central business district.

Laying idle since it was purchased by GLG Developments in 2013, demolition of the building was delayed late last year.

Vandals smashed windows and glass doors at the front and rear of the building at the weekend, prompting renewed calls for action at the site.

Tye’s Plumbing Service is contracted by Melbourne-based GLG to maintain the building and owner David Tye said his staff regularly attend the site to repair damage.

“We are called out to make the building safe and ensure there is no safety risk to the public and to attempt to minimise any future risk,” Mr Tye said.

“For several years now we have isolated vandalised water pipes both inside and outside the building, secured roofing and flashings, boarded up broken windows and secured forced entry points to the building.

“In recent months, external Fidler and Webb signs have been removed from the building along with several internal signs that were used in a display organised by a local Mount Gambier heritage group.”

Mr Tye described the site as dangerous and said he was aware it had become a hotspot for squatters.

“There is extensive damage inside the building which has occurred recently – most of the plaster walls, ceilings and glass panels have been smashed and destroyed,” Mr Tye said.

“With the building set for demolition, we hope vandalism will no longer continue to pose a risk to public safety and detract from the city’s vibrant eastern shopping strip.”

GLG director Campbell Blennerhassett said the company would continue to address incidents of vandalism immediately.

“Unfortunately it is a large building in the middle of town which is attractive to people with too much time on their hands,” Mr Blennerhassett said.

“We have been attending to any damage the minute it occurs and we have been in touch with the police about it.”

Mr Blennerhassett said the blueprint for the $35m overhaul of the site was still being processed by the State Development Assessment Commission and foreshadowed a demolition date would be set as soon as the project was given the green light.

Meanwhile, Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce president Lynette Martin OAM expressed disappointment the building had been left in a derelict state for so long.

“It really is a pity that it has not been demolished before now – it has been five years since the developers purchased the building and it continues to be a blight on our central business district,” Ms Martin said.

“Council has invested significantly in refurbishing the city centre and there is a crumbling building right in the heart of the city – it just looks terrible.

“I understand the demolition process has been delayed, but it is time pressure was brought to bear – it has got to go.”