THE abandoned Avon factory in Portarlington which has caused so much concern over public safety is now being patrolled by security staff, but the chairperson of the local community development group has revealed that security will cease this Friday (November 9) leaving the building unsecured and just as dangerous as ever.
For several months the Portarlington Community Development Association (PCDA), led by chairperson Ms Margaret Guijt-Lawlor, have been campaigning to take the old building on the town’s Canal Road in hand, following concerns of anti-social behaviour and public safety. Several doors and windows have been broken into and there are dangerous chemicals being contained in canisters within the factory. There is also a considerable amount of wood being stored, which the PCDA fear could lead to a devastating fire sweeping through the building.
In recent weeks local councillors and elected representatives have been highlighting the issue in the Dail, with Senator John Whelan describing the disused site as “an open sore” on the character of the town. The senator even suggested that if there was a fire in the factory, it would pose such a serious public hazard he believed it would necessitate the evacuation of the town of Portarlington. This suggestion was roundly refuted by senior fire staff, who said that the old factory presents no bigger a fire risk than any other building.
In a statement last week, Brian Stanley TD said he met with the chairman and CEO of NAMA and it was arranged to have security put on the site. However, while there are currently two security staff manning the factory during the day and one at night, Ms Guijt-Lawlor has revealed that the staff are only in place until November 9 (Friday). She has also said that due to insurance reasons, the security men can not actually set foot in the building and are merely parked outside.
“It’s not ideal, but we’ve managed to get some security,” she said.
Ms Guijt-Lawlor explained that within the last few weeks, it was discovered that pipes had been removed from the old building by thieves who gained entry through an open loading bay. While she welcomed the presence of security at the site, she admitted that she does not know what will happen after the staff finish this Friday. She said that the PCDA are set to meet at the end of the week to discuss the next step.