Alarm raised about dangerous former hostel six months before teenager injured

Kirklees Council was made aware of a dangerous former hostel for the homeless almost six months before a teenager pricked himself on a used syringe while playing inside.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 7:00 am
The derelict former homeless hostel at The Combs in Dewsbury, which has become a haven for drug users and a magnet for local youngsters
The derelict former homeless hostel at The Combs in Dewsbury, which has become a haven for drug users and a magnet for local youngsters

Now the council has been challenged to either make safe or demolish The Combs, off Hall Lane in Thornhill, Dewsbury – and to charge any costs back to the owner.

The council disposed of the dilapidated complex – a haven for drug addicts and a magnet for local youngsters – in May 2017.

Originally Combs Hill School, it was converted into temporary accommodation for the homeless in the 1990s.

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Five years on the overgrown eyesore, surrounded by collapsed security fencing, continues to deteriorate.

Last month the mother of a boy who fell onto a needle and who faces months of Hepatitis B jabs as a precaution called for the site to be secured or demolished.

Her plea has been backed by Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield), who raised the alarm about the state of the facility in March.

He said: “Six months on it’s still a danger. Someone has been unnecessarily injured.

“It’s for the family of the boy to say whether there was any negligence but morally why was this allowed to happen?

“I’ve not had any further word that the council have been able to locate the purchasers but obviously the council have that detail because they sold the building to them.

“If the council deem it to be a public hazard then they can demolish it and the cost can be recharged [to the owners].

“Or in the absence of the owners taking action, the council can secure it as an interim measure.

“All costs should be recovered. The public purse should not be out of pocket by any of these decisions.”

Coun Peter McBride, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, advised locals to keep away from the Combs site.

He said the privately-owned complex was not within the council’s control but that the authority would undertake an inspection and contact the owner “urgently” to put safety measures in place.

He added: “It’s not acceptable that the property is in its current state and the owner needs to put sufficient security in place to prevent an incident like this happening.

“We’ll also be advising them to demolish the building as soon as possible.”