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News | 29th April 2021

Residents in fear of their lives every day

Neighbours are extremely concerned about the state of the spire


THE threat from a “dangerous” building is putting residents in fear of their lives.

Alison and Robert Aston, who live in the shadow of the derelict Erskine church in Langholm have watched it deteriorate over decades.

The church has passed from owner to owner at auctions and is currently on the market again.

Robert believes that purchasers don’t know the location –  on the bend on the A7 – when they buy it and when they visit, they just put it back on the market.

Scaffolding was put up about 12 years ago but the wood is now rotting and falling into the passageway between the listed building and the Astons’ house.

When asked whether they thought the building was dangerous, Robert said: “If you lived here, what would you think?

“The scaffolding is secure because it’s fixed to the stonework but the wooden planks are rotting and falling to the ground.

“A couple of weeks ago, one of the boards round the spire was hanging loose.”

Alison added: “It’s scary. Do I have to be killed in my bed from falling masonry before Dumfries and Galloway Council does anything about it?”

Councillor Ronnie Tait said: “This is a never-ending saga and the council has picked up the tab for the scaffolding for a long time.

“It was bought by a man late last year and the council thought he would do something with it but it’s back on the market.

“You’ve no idea what it’s like inside; it’s unbelievable.

“Periodically, the scaffolders come down and write a report for building control at the council which has an obligation to keep the building safe.

“If it got to the stage where the spire started to crumble, the council would declare it a dangerous building.

“It would probably have to put scaffolding on the A7 and who knows what would happen then.

“The council doesn’t want to spend a lot of taxpayers money on it and never get it back.”

Mr Tait said he would like a report to go forward to the communities committee so it could be considered by members.

He had highlighted recently the George Hotel in Stranraer which had been dilapidated for years.

The council eventually bought and a nearby street closed because of the danger but the building was found to be beyond repair.

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