SAFETY of employees at a local business has been put at risk due to an unsightly building in the city.
The derelict empty flats on Commercial Street East are a hovel for drugs and squatters according to a frustrated business owner.
The property has been neglected for almost a decade, attracting crime and detracting from the otherwise tidy streetscape, despite numerous complaints to Mount Gambier City Council.
Georgy’s Hair Design owner Kylie Stratman said the flats had never been properly secured and the site had become increasingly dangerous.
“This has been going on for eight years and the situation has never improved,” she said.
“I have picked up used syringes, cans and broken bottles here on a number of occasions – the property is completely accessible so it inevitably attracts crime and vandalism.
“We make formal complaints to council all the time – what more can we do?”
Ms Stratman said her clients and staff felt unsafe walking outside to use the salon’s bathroom, particularly at night time.
“Every time we go outside to the bathroom we are looking over our shoulder,” she said.
“We don’t feel safe – we never know what might be going on next door.
“On top of that the flats have smashed windows, the weeds are overgrown and there is graffiti on the walls – it’s not a good look.”
A council spokesperson said while the owner of the property had previously applied for council approval to demolish the building, no action had been taken within a prescribed 12 month time frame.
“The owner’s application was approved and the applicant had 12 months to start the demolition and three years to complete it,” the spokesperson said.
“Unfortunately because no action was taken to demolish the building in that 12 months the approval has now lapsed.”
The spokesperson said council had no power to force the owner to secure the property.
“Council is aware of the building and we have had discussions with the owner for a lengthy period of time,” the spokesperson said.
“We can issue a notice to tidy up overgrown weeds during the fire season and we can negotiate with the owner to secure the property but we cannot force the owner to do anything.
“Building assessors have inspected the property and it is structurally sound so we are unable to issue a notice to say it was unsafe – at this stage our hands are tied.”