A BID to knock down eyesore blocks of flats in Greenock which have become a magnet for anti-social behaviour is back on the table following a long-running fight by residents.

River Clyde Homes recently made a move to kickstart the demolition of the abandoned Neil Street buildings, with their board giving the go-ahead for bulldozers to move in.

They will now seek out the permissions needed and have told the Tele they hope that work will begin in the summer.

Ward councillor Tommy McVey, who has relentlessly pursued the issue, welcomed the recent development, but says it is unacceptable it has take five years to reach this stage.

He said: "It is a step forward that the RCH board have agreed to demolish the flats.

"However, we have been here before. Planning permission for demolition was granted previously in 2018 but that has unfortunately expired.

"RCH have informed me that they envisage the demolition will take place in 2024, so the next step is hold them to account, to ensure that timeline is met. Let's see how it goes.”

River Clyde Homes chiefs were forced to respond to concerns about Neil Street after Councillor McVey included the issue in a motion put before elected members criticising the housing association for its performance.

It triggered a formal letter from council chief executive Louise Long to RCH.

This prompted a direct response from the social landlord's chief executive, Richard Turnock, admitting that the situation could have been handled better.

The flats have been lying empty since falling into disrepair seven years ago. They have been targeted by vandals and fire-starters.

Residents living nearby, supported by the community council, have been desperate to see them demolished.

During the long-running saga the buildings were even put up for sale at one point.

Then last year it was revealed River Clyde Homes had not carried out the remedial work necessary to allow surveys to be carried out. This meant the Scottish Government could not sanction the work, with housing secretary Shona Robison stepping in to suspend moves to tear down the four blocks.

In a subsequent letter to Councillor McVey the minister said RCH had not responded to requests for information.

RCH say that talks with private flat owners have held up the process.

A River Clyde Homes spokesperson said: “Following consultation with the local community council and the Scottish Government, we continue to work toward the demolition of properties in Neil Street.

"Due to the time involved in obtaining owner agreement to sell the properties, the original warrant expired and we have therefore applied for a new warrant to allow demolition to take place.

"Subject to necessary permissions being granted, we are aiming to be on site for summer 2024."