Fears squatters will return

CONCERNS have today been raised that squatters could again take refuge in an Ipswich home formerly used as a drug den.

CONCERNS have today been raised that squatters could again take refuge in an Ipswich home formerly used as a drug den.

The house, on Colchester Road, remains empty and has been boarded up four months after owner Shell UK Ltd obtained a court eviction notice and cleared out the addicts living there.

Ipswich Borough Council had hoped that the four-bed property could be let to one of the families on the housing register.

Now there are fears that unless legitimate residents are found soon, drug users could return and create misery for those living nearby.

County councillor Russell Harsant said: “It would not take long for someone to get in there and then, overnight, we are back to square one.

“We have got to the stage where we are asking Shell 'what are you going to do?'

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“Nothing has happened and residents are very concerned there will be a repeat performance.

“We have homeless people who would love a house like that.”

After bailiffs removed squatters in September last year, specialist house clearance contractors entered the home and were shocked to discover scores of hypodermic needles scattered throughout the building, as well as stinking rubbish and drug and sex-related graffiti.

In a two day clearance operation rubbish was found to be 2ft deep.

Prior to the eviction, the borough council had threatened to enforce new legislation - empty dwelling management orders - which allow local authorities to take over the management of a vacant property and rent it out, passing on part of the rent to the owner.

Housing bosses are desperate to force landlords into cleaning up and letting out some of the estimated 500 homes currently sitting empty in the town, with three and four-bedroom houses particularly in demand.

No one from Shell UK Ltd was available for comment.

Do you think Shell should take action? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk