Safety warning as children spotted inside Carlisle's crumbling Central Plaza hotel

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Children have been warned they are dicing with danger after youngsters were spotted clambering on staircases and scaffolding at Carlisle’s derelict Central Plaza hotel.

These youths were pictured by The Cumberland News as they entered the crumbling city centre site, wandering up fire escapes on the long-empty building.

Police issued the warning in response to the images and urged parents to check where their children are in the summer holidays.

A neighbouring business boss said he had regularly phoned police about the problem.

The eyesore building has stood empty in the city centre, provoking concerns about vandalism and safety, for more than a decade.

Police were called to the Central Plaza Hotel, in Victoria Viaduct, shortly after 1pm yesterday.

The alarm was raised by Andrew Gale, managing director of Carlisle Bed Centre, which is next door to the run-down building.

He said that problems with vandalism and anti-social behaviour around the building had gone on for about 10 years.

During the latest incident eyewitnesses reported youths being on the roof.

Mr Gale said: “They run around the building and scaffolding making a nuisance of themselves, and more importantly, putting their lives at risk.

“The normal amount of youths is between four and six.”

He said he had called the police “well over a hundred times” over a 10-year period.

According to Mr Gale, youths climbing to the top of the building is a common occurrence.

“It has been going on for a long time,” he said.

Police attended the scene and said they were working to identify the culprits.

A force spokesman said: “Climbing scaffolding is incredibly dangerous.

“We’d urge people not to do this and any parent who suspects their child could be involved to speak to them and warn them about the dangers.”

The 65-bedroom hotel, on Victoria Viaduct, is among the first buildings to be seen on the way into the city centre.

But having stood empty for years, it is now a shadow of its former glory.

Surrounded by scaffolding, targeted by vandals and boarded up, attempts to bring it back into use have so far failed.

Last year a feasibility study, commissioned by Carlisle City Centre Business Group, concluded that renovating the hotel on Victoria Viaduct would be more cost-effective than demolishing it.

The £10,000 feasibility study, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), examined the likely costs of three possible options for the building: total demolition, partial demolition with some rebuilding, and total renovation.

Total demolition costs were estimated at £5m.

There would be no grant funding for this and it would leave a hole in the city centre unlikely to be attractive to a developer.

The study found it would cost £6.3m to restore the hotel to a point where a developer would consider taking it over.

At least two potential developers were reportedly interested in taking on the project, which would be made possible by grant funding.

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