AN Otley councillor fears the town’s former civic centre has become a risk to life.

Cllr Nigel Francis says the building, which has been closed for many years and has been recently sold, appears to be suffering from neglect by its previous owners, Leeds City Council.

It follows a recent incident in which an amount of stone or rendering fell from the building on to the public footpath at the side of the property.

A member of the public brought it to the attention of Cllr Francis.

Cllr Francis said: “This stonework could easily have injured or killed somebody walking on the footpath. I, like many people, fought long and hard to retain the Civic Centre for the people of Otley. Previously, I have told all the main parties on Leeds City Council to hang their heads in shame for allowing the building to fall into such a dangerous state.

“This stonework could be the start of larger and more dangerous erosion causing further falls. I also noted that the toilet windows on the middle of the building appear to be held in mainly by cobwebs and dust and present another potentially dangerous and life-threatening situation.”

Leeds City Council sold the civic centre at auction for £600,000 in 2020. The listed building is currently subject to a planning application to convert it into 35 apartments.

Cllr Francis is now urging the developer to act, in conjunction with the previous owner Leeds City Council, and take immediate action to prevent serious injury and loss of life.

Cllr Francis added: “Leeds City Council appears to have kept hidden the new owner of the civic centre which no-one seems to know why.

“I sent my concerns to the leader of the city council as it is in their interests to see that the building is safe, and as such they should be able to contact the owner and see action is taken straight away. If they fail to act and someone is killed or injured then I would come forward and say the city council failed to act in the interests of safety and they would have to shoulder some of the blame.

“Leeds City Council has not replied and there appears to have been nothing done. I walk past it most days and no action has been taken."

Leeds City Council was approached for comment but failed to respond in time for publication.

On its website under the title of 'dangerous buildings and structures' the council says: "We are responsible for removing any danger posed by unsafe buildings in Leeds.

"If you are concerned about a dangerous or unsecured building, please let us know as soon as possible.

"We will notify the owner of what work they need to do to make the building safe. If the work is not completed within a specified time limit, we may take legal action in the interests of public safety.

"In extreme circumstances we can use emergency powers to demand that the building is made safe or demolished immediately. In these cases, we can recover any associated costs from the owner of the building."