FOUR developers are interested in demolishing derelict shops in Cradley and replacing them with four single storey retail units, it has been revealed.

Dudley Council officers showed fed up residents at a packed meeting of the Cradley Action Group outline proposals for the Colley Gate buildings.

They also announced at last night’s meeting at The Laurels Club the two owners, who have neglected the buildings for years, have been given 48 hours notice that the council will board up the dangerous shops.

The move comes after Shakil Hussain, who owns three of the shops including the former Shaks Balti takeaway, reneged on his promise made in the News last week to make the building safe and secure.

Chris Legiewicz, co-founder of the action group, said about 40 people attended the meeting and they were pleased to hear that the council was taking control.

But she is hoping Cradley MP Margot James will be successful in her push for a change in the law to make absent landlords responsible for the state of the properties and to give local authorities increased powers to act if they refuse.

Mrs Legiewicz described the law as it stands as “an absolute joke” and said it is hoped the council will compulsory purchase the buildings if the owners refuse to sell.

“It’s all wrong. It’s not costing the owners a penny, yet the council has to go through the legal process, which is costly and at a time when money is short.

“They’ll put the costs onto their estates, but they won’t get the money back until the buildings are sold, if they are sold,” she said, adding: “They are in such a terrible state, it makes you ashamed, which is a shame because we love where we live.

“It was a positive meeting, but there were a lot of frustrated people there.”

The council has set a deadline of July 31 for developers to register an interest in the buildings, which include two functioning businesses – the Golden Cup takeaway operating from council-owned premises and a pharmacy.

Mrs Legiewicz said action group members were hoping the redevelopment would not be held up by Mr Hussain and Mr Goodman, from Halesowen, who owns the derelict single storey building and the former Lucky Star takeaway.