Question of luck

SIR - An anonymous letter, featured in last week’s Herald, appealed for more sympathy for Andrew Torjussen, the owner of the Fortfield Hotel, who, apparently, has suffered “a history of bad luck” during the five- year transformation of his property from iconic local landmark to gutted ruin. Really?

It wasn’t bad luck that led to the failure of his attempts to redevelop the hotel site, but unacceptable plans which provoked strong opposition from local people.

It wasn’t bad luck that made his building a magnet for criminals and arsonists. According to EDDC he “failed to take responsibility for the security of the hotel. Despite constant prompting by the various agencies involved, his attempts to prevent intruders have been inadequate.” (Council spokesperson, January 17 2011)

It wasn’t bad luck – or nastiness! - that caused local hostility to Mr Thorjussen, but resentment that tens of thousands of pounds of public money had to be spent on dealing with his property.

This affair draws attention to a serious nationwide problem: local authorities lack sufficient power under the present law to act against owners whose properties become a danger to the public.

EDDC, acutely aware of their impotence in this case, have decided to lobby local MPs and the Government to seek “a change in the legislation to ensure owners take full responsibility for their buildings”. We should add our voices to this call.

Tony Green

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