THE problems created by 'ghost estates' will continue to haunt communities and the construction industry unless they are tackled in a determined and holistic way.
That's according to Labour Party Candidate for Laois Offaly John Whelan, who said "walking away from this issue is not an option and therefore any further delay in getting stuck in and fixing it is futile."
Mr Whelan said the Labour Party is committed to having the 'ghost estate' problem put to rest and recognises that the scale of the task requires a co-operative and collective response from all the stakeholders as otherwise it will never be resolved.
"Householders and residents associations must be included and need to be at the heart of any solution, but the extent of the problem is outside the remit, responsibility and quite frankly the scope of the local authorities. They too have an important role to play but do not have the resources or capacity to put things right on their own," he said.
Mr Whelan has proposed getting all those responsible involved in providing a solution. "Laois-Offaly, where the problem of 'ghost estates' is so widespread is a good place to start and show what can be done on a pilot basis which can serve as a blueprint for dealing with the estimated 2,800 'ghost estates' countrywide," he said.
"I have met residents who purchased phase one properties who personally witnessed the same workers laying blocks one day, plastering the next and then taking on the plumbing," he said.
Mr Whelan said the construction sector is finally wakening up to the reality that such rogue builders and this kind of shoddy work and shifty carry-on is giving all builders a bad name and turning 'developer' into a dirty word.
"Following recent discussions I have had with the CIF representatives they condemn it outright and want to play their part in helping to put things right. If everyone works together, Laois-Offaly is the perfect place to start in tackling and solving the situation of 'ghost estates'.
"In my view it is irresponsible of the County Councils here to be dishing out planning permissions for any more large blocks of houses and big estates until the issue of unfinished and unoccupied estates is put right first," he said.
"There have been enough reports ,enough talk and task forces. Now is the time for the Department of the Environment, the County Councils, the planners, the Construction Industry Federation, the banks, Homebond, NAMA, the social housing agencies and all other stakeholders in conjunction with local residents to put in place an action plan and commence the clean up and remedial work without any further delay as we head into the spring and summer," he concluded.