Empty property led to store damage

A SHOPKEEPER is demanding that a property that has stood empty for more than three years is brought back into use following a spate of vandalism. Lorraine Page, owner of The Hyde Bakers in The Hyde, was faced with a flooded shop on Saturday morning after

A SHOPKEEPER is demanding that a property that has stood empty for more than three years is brought back into use following a spate of vandalism.

Lorraine Page, owner of The Hyde Bakers in The Hyde, was faced with a flooded shop on Saturday morning after vandals entered a maisonette directly above the shop and took the radiators off the walls.

"I have not long taken over the business and when I came in on Saturday it was a complete mess and we lost half a day's takings," she said.

"I have just refitted the shop and now there's lots of damage. One of the walls will have to be repainted, the worktops have water damage and the ceiling has lots of cracks in it.

"We are insured and it could have been a lot worse but that's not the point, it's the inconvenience. We're trying to build a business here!

"The flat above us is a perfectly good three-bedded property but it's been empty for such a long time.

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"They could have rehoused people some time ago but instead it's left empty to be vandalised."

Resident Donna Hudson, 24, who lives two doors down from the maisonette, said: "I have lived here for nearly three years and it's been empty for as long as I can remember. The windows have been left open and people have been coming and going.

"They come up here and break glass bottles, steal children's footballs and leave beer cans everywhere.

"I feel unsafe because they are intimidating and come up in gangs and although I have asked the council to install gates to stop people coming up here nothing has happened yet."

A Stevenage Borough Council spokesman said: "This maisonette was originally let by the council along with the bakery below. The bakery went into liquidation and ended their tenancy in 2006. However, the maisonette remained occupied by an employee of the bakery.

"Recently the maisonette has been occupied by squatters. We are in the process of regaining possession of the maisonette and securing the site.

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