I REFER to Josh Wright’s article ‘No seizure of homes’ (Echo, March 11).

It is hardly surprising that Bournemouth council have never used powers allowing it to take temporary ownership of long-term empty properties because, if they did, then they would also have to act against itself for keeping a council-owned property empty for 30 years! This must surely be a record for the town, if not nationally.

The property in question is a flat above the Ensbury Park Library which the council have allowed to fall into a terrible state of repair despite being a public asset that they have a duty to maintain. Although owned by the council, council tax is still payable and because it is a long-term empty property, from April 1 2019 the council tax charge will be double the Band A rate, a total of £2,371. Of course, it is not the council that pays this tax, it is all other council tax payers.

Notwithstanding the cost of the council tax payment, the flat could have provided a much-needed home for a family and additionally an income for the council. What is disappointing is that an alternative use of the flat would have been to provide a much-needed community facility within this tiny library.

This was suggested to the council by the local community, but in response to my question asked at full council in June 2018, the council stated the flat was needed to provide housing. It seems it has taken 30 years to come to this conclusion! As the flat is still empty, in January I asked the responsible council portfolio holder for an update on progress. He initially replied that the project was under review and when pressed, subsequently admitted that he did not know. Referring to the council’s Empty Homes Strategy and the reasons why homes become long term empty, one reason given is lethargy, indifference and obstruction. Well, this is something I cannot argue against!

CLLR STEPHEN BARTLETT (Independent), Redhill and Northbourne