Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley is threatening to “name and shame” the banks that hold the mortgages on Hepburn Court properties, unless they engage with Laois County Council to resolve the ongoing problems with the estate.
“The banks are saying they have the mortgages, but the properties aren’t theirs. So, when it suits them they have responsibility for the houses, and when it suits them they don’t,” she said at County Hall last week. “Banks should be named and shamed, they need to step up to the plate.”
She was speaking during the Portlaoise Municipal District Meeting, when she raised a motion requesting an update on the derelict sites in Hepburn Court, and the old squash club in the area.
She was informed by senior executive officer, Mr Michael Rainey that all the houses in the estate have been vacated and made safe, and bollards have been erected at the entrance. He said there was a considerable volume of rubbish dumped in the estate and the council are making arrangements to clean this up.
Mr Rainey went on to reveal that some of the houses have been repossessed and some have not, and the council is in talks with the individual owners and institutions to resolve matters. He blamed “poor tenancy management” in Hepburn, which then “snowballed” to create the problems. He also revealed that the old squash club has been made safe, to stop the “perpetual fires” that have plagued the building.
Cllr Dwane said there were ongoing problems at the squash club, with the fire brigade assaulted on several occasions. She called for the entire site to be completely demolished, as the building is already falling down.
Her demand for the banks to be brought to heel was echoed by a number of councillors at the meeting. Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said there was a housing problem in Portlaoise, and yet houses were sitting vacant, while Cllr Noel Tuohy remarked: “We borrowed €64 million to bail out the banks, the least they can do is meet us.”