DERELICT buildings in Bournemouth are a “dangerous” health hazard which could put people’s lives at risk and damage tourism, according to the Deputy Mayor.

Cllr Phil Stanley Watts voiced his fears about the “major fire risk” after hearing how three people were rescued when a blaze tore through a derelict house in Wellington Road.

The house had been earmarked for demolition and residents said the property had been regularly used by homeless people and squatters.

He said: “The issue of derelict buildings has come to the fore with the fire at an empty property in Wellington Road which nearly claimed the lives of three people but for the prompt action of the Dorset Fire and Rescue Service.

“I would like to see more being done to address the problem of derelict housing and urge a change in the law as they are a dangerous health and safety problem which destroys our area and quality of life.”

Hoteliers have also raised concerns about the fire risk and squatter break-ins at the derelict Woodcroft Hotel in Gervis Road which was boarded up last year.

The Deputy Mayor said he believes derelict buildings are an “eyesore” which could significantly damage tourism in Bournemouth.

He said: “Seeing so many derelict buildings would definitely not project a good image of the town to tourists and we rely so heavily on the tourism industry.”

Bournemouth council can serve different types of enforcement notices requiring refurbishment or repair and with an option for demolition in extreme cases.

Cabinet Member for Transport, Cleaning and Waste, Michael Filer said: “We would have no grounds to serve a notice just because the property was empty or occupies by squatters.”

In Bournemouth there are approximately 3,000 empty properties at any one time and the council has developed an Empty Homes Strategy to bring these back into use.