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Smashing day as an eyesore disappears.

Byline: By Sarah Knapton

The bulldozers have moved in to flatten an eyesore at the heart of a Tyne-side community.

Delighted locals turned up to watch workmen tear down the notorious Phoenix pub, on Westminster Avenue, New York.

The dilapidated building has become a target for arson and graffiti as well as a congregating point for gangs of youths and drug users.

Locals have campaign-ed for the past few years to have it revamped or pull-ed down but North Tyneside Council only recently secured the lease from licensees Pubmaster.

After the building was once again torched by vandals in May, councillors finally gave the green light for the demolition.

Now residents will be asked for their opinions on what should happen to the site. Suggestions already include a doctor's surgery, new housing or a shopping precinct.

Coun Mike McIntyre, cabinet member for housing, said: "This is good news for the people who live near this building.

"It was an eyesore which attracted anti-social behaviour. Now that is gone we will see an end to these vandalism and arson attacks.

"During the next few weeks we will be consulting people in the area to see how they want the site to be developed.

"There were plans for a community centre on the site, but we the residents don't actually seem to want that."

Plans to convert the building into a healthy living centre fell through due to the poor state of the pub and residents feared it would fall into greater disrepair.

Dangerous fungus growing inside the pub also made it a health hazard leaving councillors eager to knock it down.

The demolition has also been welcomed by police and firemen, frequently called to the pub.

Community police beat officer for North Shields Frank Best said: "This building has been a problem for the police for a number of years now and we welcome any attempt to sort it out.

"Local youths are continuing to use the site to meet and drink or do drugs which is bringing down the whole area.

"It is also a frequent target for arson attacks so the fire brigade will welcome moves to demolish it."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 29, 2004
Words:360
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