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TWO eyesore office blocks which have blighted Southend for over a decade could be flattened within 18 months.

Southend Council is stepping up its efforts to finally clear Victoria Avenue of the Carby and Heath buildings.

Councillors have called an emergency series of meetings next month to push through plans to use special powers to take control of the buildings.

The Echo understands the move could cost £4million.

On September 2, the council will vote on whether to use compulsory purchase orders to buy the buildings.

It comes after talks to buy them failed, leaving the authority no choice but to pursue other routes.

Labour’s Ian Gilbert, who represents Victoria ward and is also deputy leader of the council, said: “While we will continue to try to negotiate with the landowners ahead of these meetings and before any decisions, we have got to the stage where we must take firm action on what is an eyesore for the town.

“Using compulsory purchase orders is long and complex and it could take at least 18 months to two years and beyond to go through the legal process, so it’s important we get the ball rolling at the earliest opportunity.

“Having control of this land would provide a wonderful opportunity for the council and the local community for the major transformation of this area.

“Action is well overdue and I’m pleased we’re getting on with things.”

The Echo understands the process will involve the council serving the owners of the buildings – believed to be an offshore company – legal papers which they can either accept or take through the courts.

The authority would have to pay the land value, plus compensation.

Councillors believe the dilapidated buildings are putting businesses off investing in the town.

David Burch, from the Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “We welcome this action as it means getting rid of an eyesore from the site and anything that can be done to speed up the process will be welcomed.”