Abandoned garages in Sandwell 'a magnet for anti-social behaviour'

Abandoned garages in Sandwell are a “magnet” for anti-social behaviour after an increase in weekly rent, it has been claimed.

Youths standing around a row of garages in Worcester Road, Oldbury. Photo: Councillor Jay Anandou
Youths standing around a row of garages in Worcester Road, Oldbury. Photo: Councillor Jay Anandou

Sandwell Council, which owns the garages, disputes the claims.

A 72-second clip has surfaced of three vandals jumping on the broken door of an abandoned garage, located on Worcester Road, Oldbury.

The video, recorded on June 19, shows one of the individuals going inside the garage, before turning their attention to a garage next door.

It comes as Sandwell Council approved an increase to garage rents in December 2021. The increase, from £6.87 to £11, will generate the Labour-led council an annual income of £1,059,916, an additional £397,950 in revenue.

Conservative councillor Jay Anandou, who represents Old Warley, wrote on Facebook: “Several derelict garages in Sandwell, including Worcester Road garages, in Old Warley, have been left derelict and left to rot for more than two years, and subjected to arson and vandalism – most recently two weeks ago.

“I have written to the local police chief as this has been going on for a good few years, with local residents and children terrified.”

Previous reports noted that West Midlands Police could not find any record of the incident on their logs.

During a council meeting held on June 7, Councillor David Fisher, leader of Sandwell Conservatives asked the council what they were intending to do with vacant empty garages. He claimed that out of 234 rented garages in his council ward, Charlemont with Grove Vale, 60 were left vacant, and were a “magnet” for anti-social behaviour.

At the time, Councillor Charn Singh Padda, the cabinet member for housing, replied: “We have a waiting list of people who would like to rent a garage and a matching supply to demand to offer a vacant garage as close to their location of choice as possible. We are undertaking repairs to garages where they need to be brought up to standard for rental.”

When asked about the June 19 incident, Councillor Danny Millard, cabinet member for communities – whose portfolio includes safer neighbourhoods and anti-social behaviour – said: “Sandwell Council is committed to ensuring that all residents enjoy their right to peace, quiet and security in their homes and neighbourhoods. We take reports of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, and hate crime seriously, in line with the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policy Act 2014.

“The council encourages those who witness any such behaviour or can identify the perpetrators, to report these to the council and/or West Midlands Police so that appropriate action can be taken.

“The garage site at Worcester Road is empty and has been the subject of a number of incidents of vandalism over recent months. Sandwell Council has responded on each occasion and ensured the site remains safe and as secure as we can practicably make it.

“This site is not empty because of the increase in garage rents in April. It is empty as there is currently no demand for the garages in this location.

“The Oldbury neighbourhood services manager will be raising anti-social behaviour issues, such as the garage site at Worcester Road, with partner organisations at the forthcoming Oldbury tasking meeting to ensure we act in a coordinated and responsive manner to these concerns.

“Council officers are currently looking into and assessing the options of securing the Worcester Road site. The authority has established a project to review all our garage sites to ensure we let those that are available and, where there is demand, undertake any necessary repairs or improvements and find an alternative use for sites like Worcester Road where there is currently no demand from the local community.”

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News