Huge bill after squatters leave

SUFFOLK County Council is facing a bill of up to £100,000 after squatters and vandals struck at a former social services building in the centre of Stowmarket.

SUFFOLK County Council is facing a bill of up to £100,000 after squatters and vandals struck at a former social services building in the centre of Stowmarket.

Squatters faced eviction after moving into the building in Ipswich Street, owned by the county council, which had about half a dozen people inside.

The authority recently sought a court order to remove them and after they went a group of vandals moved in and caused damage, including it is believed ripping out light fittings.

After legal costs, repairs and making the building safe council officials it is estimated that the final bill will not be far short of £100,000.

Stowmarket mayor Anne Whybrow said last night: “It's appalling, this is gross vandalism. These are all people's sons and daughters and probably as individuals they would not do this, but as a massive group they turn into vandals.

“It endorses how Suffolk County Council must be more vigilant with their buildings when they are unoccupied.”

Most Read

A spokesman for the authority said: “We greatly regret the damage caused to this building which we own.

“The actions of squatters has already cost the council and therefore local people many thousands of pounds and wasted a lot of time and effort.

“We profoundly apologise to neighbours and any others affected by noise and other disturbance, and we have taken every precaution to make the building secure.

“The council is looking forward to the building being sold and becoming a successful residential development on the site in the future.”

Police said that the matter could have worried residents and urged landlords to keep buildings as secure as possible, with alarms working if they are installed, good lighting and possibly CCTV.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary added that they believe the property has now been made secure, and was boarded and bricked up after windows were smashed at the town centre site.