Con­cerns raised be­fore huge Bal­dragon blaze

Group says it was pre­vented from re­mov­ing flammable ma­te­ri­als be­fore fire

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - DEREK HEALEY

Lo­cal res­i­dents called for as­sis­tance to deal with un­ruly youths just hours be­fore a blaze tore through the for­mer Bal­dragon Academy cam­pus, it has emerged.

Po­lice are look­ing to speak to a gang of girls and boys, all be­lieved to be around 14 years old, af­ter flames broke out in mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions at the for­mer school site.

Chief In­spec­tor Nicky Rus­sell said the cam­pus had be­come an area for youths to con­gre­gate but stressed such be­hav­iour would not be tol­er­ated.

Kirk­ton Safety and Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ship said it raised con­cerns many times in the weeks be­fore the in­ci­dent but was “pre­vented” from re­mov­ing flammable ma­te­ri­als.

Strath­mar­tine coun­cil­lor Kevin Keenan said the lo­cal au­thor­ity may now have to look at step­ping up se­cu­rity at the site and he warned that rais­ing fires could carry “a real risk to life”.

A com­mu­nity group said fire safety con­cerns over the for­mer Bal­dragon Academy had been raised just weeks be­fore a blaze tore through the cam­pus.

Po­lice are look­ing to speak to a group of youths, be­lieved to be aged around 14, af­ter more than 40 fire­fight­ers were called to Satur­day af­ter­noon’s blaze.

It emerged lo­cal res­i­dents also called for as­sis­tance the night be­fore af­ter see­ing young­sters smash win­dows from in­side the boarded-up build­ings.

Kirk­ton Safety and Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ship vice-chair­woman Lynn Wat­son claimed fire safety is­sues had been raised with city ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of chil­dren and fam­i­lies ser­vices Paul Clancy a num­ber of times.

She said: “We were pre­vented from re­mov­ing any­thing else from the old Bal­dragon Academy, in­clud­ing flammable fix­tures and fit­tings.

“Teenagers on the roof were re­ported to se­nior coun­cil of­fi­cers a month ago.

“I know folk had raised con­cerns as our com­mu­nity sergeant had been no­ti­fied, and that was about three weeks ago so it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see what mea­sures had ac­tu­ally been put in place.”

Chief In­spec­tor Nicky Rus­sell said the force is keen to speak to a group of girls and boys seen in the area around the time the string of fires broke out.

“The for­mer school has be­come an area for youths to con­gre­gate re­cently,” she said.

“This has re­sulted in a num­ber of van­dalisms and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and I would like to stress that this will not be tol­er­ated.”

City Coun­cil Labour group leader Kevin Keenan, who rep­re­sents the Strath­mar­tine ward, said: “I un­der­stand there had been work to clean up the in­side of the school but I am also aware the com­mu­nity safety part­ner­ship has raised con­cerns.

“This lat­est act of van­dal­ism car­ries a real risk to life and takes up the valu­able re­sources of the po­lice and fire ser­vice.

“It they are get­ting to this level of van­dal­ism then we may need to look at hav­ing some kind of se­cu­rity, and whether it’s a pa­trol or hav­ing some­one placed there per­ma­nently, we need to make sure this does not hap­pen again.”

A coun­cil spokes­woman said: “We are work­ing with Po­lice Scot­land on this mat­ter.”

Pic­ture: Steven Brown.

Fire dam­age to the for­mer Bal­dragon Academy.

Pic­ture: Kris Miller.

City Coun­cil Labour group leader Kevin Keenan, who rep­re­sents the Strath­mar­tine ward.

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