Willow Court a vandals paradise

VANDALS were able to enter any building the Willow Court historic site, the Derwent Valley Council was told this week. Project officer Ian Brown said thieves were using heavy equipment to bend 25mm steel and breach thick steel doors at the heritage-listed site.

Answering questions about an escalating damage bill, Mr Brown said about $3000 had been spent replacing five steel doors in the last month alone.”They are showing a serious ability to enter any building,” Mr Brown said of the thieves and vandals who regularly attacked the property. “It takes serious energy and noise,” he said.

The former convict hospital and mental asylum has been in council ownership for nearly a decade and recently topped the National Trust’s “heritage at risk” register for Tasmania. National Trust managing director Chris Tassell described Willow Court as a nationally significant complex of buildings “in dire need of conservation and at present continue to deteriorate because of neglect and vandalism.”

“Willow Court redevelopment took another turn in May 2009 with the Derwent Valley Council deciding to disband the Willow Court Redevelopment Committee and replace it with an expanded body with increased community representation,” Mr Tassell said. “The site includes an intact convict building older than Port Arthur but its development as a tourist attraction has been slow. The rate of development and the derelict state of the heritage listed site has drawn community criticism as well as condemnation from state and federal politicians and commentators,” he said.

Deputy mayor Scott Shaw appealed to the public to report any vandalism or suspicious behaviour to police.

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