ORANGE City Council forced the hand of the Kurim Avenue shops owner to clean up the dilapidated, vandalised and “dangerous” shopping centre on the weekend.
Since the centre was closed down years ago it has been plagued by vandals, squatters and firebugs.
It is littered with rubbish including broken building materials, gas cylinders, oxy acetylene tanks, broken glass, sharp metal pieces, old fridges, shopping trollies and drug paraphernalia.
A call from Orange City Council staff prompted an emergency visit to the site on Thursday afternoon by mayor John Davis.
“It was worse than it had ever been so I went and had a look with two of the senior staff with council,” Cr Davis said.
“We got in touch with the owner on the spot and said that time was running out, and he said he had plans to turn it into a childcare centre.”
Cr Davis said council stepped in because the issue had been ongoing for years and had not been improved.
Skip bins were delivered to the site for the owner to discard the rubbish.
“We arranged some skip bins and I believe there was a small volunteer group that helped him clean it up,” Cr Davis said.
“Councillors were at the end of their tether, it has to be made safe, no ifs, ands or buts.”
Cr Davis declined to comment on who would pay for the skip bins to be removed once filled.
Fire and Rescue NSW station officer Tom Fenlon said the shopping centre had been a significant fire risk since it became vacant.
MrFenlon said the masses of rubbish and building materials in the centre had been set on fire over the years, with the risk of fire increasing d uring winter.
“Anything that’s left vacant like that for some time becomes attractive for people to live in,” he said.
“There have been a number of fires inside from people trying to get warm.
“There’s been at least 10 [fires] over the years.”
Cr Davis expects the clean up to be completed by today or tomorrow.
“If it can’t be made safe we’ll have to proceed with an order to try and make it safe or a fire sale evaluation made on it,” he said.
On Friday the owner of the Kurim shops showed the Central Western Daily photographer through the centre as it was being cleaned, however, could not be reached for comment on the weekend.