The millionaire owner of a disused Aberdeen factory could be landed with a council bill to secure the building from vandals after being repeatedly targeted by firebugs.
Aberdeen City Council is preparing a document of recommended work to give oil tycoon Ian Suttie, Scotland's 12th richest man and owner of the Broadford Works on the city's Maberly Street.
If he fails to carry out the work, then the local authority’s building standards officers will do the work and send the bill to Mr Suttie, a director of 40 companies with an estimated wealth of £450m.
Two boys aged 12 and 13 were charged with starting several fires at the derelict factory last week.
Councillor Neil Cooney, convener of Aberdeen City Council’s housing and environment committee, said: “Recent events at the former Broadford Works hammer home the fact that this building requires urgent attention and the owner must do the right thing by taking action to remove any danger to the public.
“This building was identified through Aberdeen Community Safety Partnership as presenting substantial risk to public safety. I know the council’s building standards team is in regular contact with the owner regarding securing the perimeter of the site or removing dangers around the perimeter. However, even if the site is secured there is still no guarantee there will be no unauthorised entry. Unless 24 hour security is provided by the owner the risk will remain as long as the site is vacant.
“Building standards staff have been working with Grampian Police and Grampian Fire and Rescue Service on this issue and, with the owner’s permission, carried out a risk assessment of the premises. My understanding is building standards are currently finalising a document for the owner which will detail risks, legal responsibilities and recommendations. A process could then be applied which may result in the council undertaking actions and recovering costs from the owner.
“There has been an excellent response from the council, police and fire service to address the potential hazards at this site but it is now time for the owner to do his bit. The possible consequences of last week’s events do not bear thinking about and I sincerely hope we can find a prompt resolution to this issue.”
A senior fire officer has said firefighters would refuse to go into the building at night to tackle fires as it was becoming too dangerous.
The Broadford Works, which has lain empty since 2004 when Aberdeen textile business Richards closed its doors, has been a frequent target for firebugs.
A multi-million pound proposal to build 500 homes at the site, the largest collection of Category A listed buildings in Scotland, was unveiled in December last year.