VACANT and underused buildings owned by Bolton Council are costing the borough’s taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds, it has been claimed.

Cllr John Walsh will table a motion at tonight’s full council meeting calling for a full list of such buildings to be compiled as well as an urgent strategy to tackle the “eyesore” properties.

The Conservative councillor for Astley Bridge says there are a “large number” of the buildings across the borough, including Heaton Cemetery gatehouse, cemetery chapels and “sundry properties such as the former Hardman’s funeral parlour on St George’s Road”.

He told The Bolton News that it was “shameful” that some of the buildings in question stand at gateways into the town.

Cllr Walsh said: “The Hardman’s building has been acquired and remained empty.

"It’s a boarded-up eyesore at a prime access point to the town centre.

"I said to sell it 10 years ago but it’s still boarded up and empty and it’s within 250 yards of the town hall.

"Bank Street is a mess, the buildings on Bradshawgate are a mess and St George’s Road is a mess. It’s shameful."

He continued: “These are at major access points which all show a town in decline, we want to promote Bolton, we want to do something positive.

"Let’s look at the scale of the problem and develop a plan to address that problem.”

And Cllr Walsh said that while he could not put a precise figure on the cost to the public purse, he estimated it to be in the region of “tens of thousand of pounds” every year.

He said: “It’s an absolute nonsense that prime town centre building are not being properly used.

"They're costing money, not producing income streams, and something needs to be done about it."

And the ward councillor said the failure to tackle the problem had a direct impact on the council's ability to deliver services.

He said: "There are lots of other sundry buildings that the council has been slow to dispose of or failed to dispose of.

"Every pound spent maintaining an unused building, every pound spent on security for a derelict building, every pound it costs the fire service to put out an arson attack is a cost to the public purse that could be spend on other services."

He added: "My view is, if we’re not going to use a building, let’s dispose of it and some money into direct services like education, social care, filling in potholes and all the things the council isn’t doing as well as it should be."