THREE brothers have been ordered to pay more than £20,000 for failing to ensure a former Bradford school site plagued by fires and anti-social behaviour was secure.

Atsham Ul-Haq, 39, of Highfield Lane, Keighley; Azhar Ul-Haq, 38, of Crosby Street, Keighley and Imran Ul-Haq, 40, of St John Street, Dewsbury, appeared before Bradford Magistrates’ Court yesterday to be sentenced after all pleading guilty to failing to comply with a Community Protection Notice issued for the old Yorkshire Martyrs building, Westgate Hill Street, Tong, and failing to submit a demolition plan for the same site.

The brothers, who are all directors in the Batley-based family business, Apollo Beds, purchased the building back in 2016, with a view to building a new factory.

The school closed back in 2010 after a restructuring by the Leeds Catholic Diocese. Prosecutor Giles Bridge told the court there had been “serious and persistent breaches, evidenced from the Council’s prolonged efforts to deal with the issues at the site and the persistent refusal to respond to the advice and requirements of the Council by the defendants”.

The first notice was issued as far back as April 2017, but no improvement was made.

Mr Bridge tracked worrying incidents at the site. In July 2017, pupils from Tong school were playing football until 8pm and then went into the building to be confronted by an older group of youths already there. One of the pupils was assaulted and left with a serious head injury.

Problems persisted, with frequent call outs to the police and fire service. Mr Bridge said the site was not properly secured and the buildings continued to be in a state of disrepair.

In June 2018, a Community Protection Warning Letter was served to the trio, requiring them to secure the site, produce a demolition plan and ensure the premises were monitored.

This was not complied with and two Community Protection Notices were then issued, but problems remained, with the Council warning the Ul-Haq’s in November last year that legal action was being taken. No response was received and two further visits in February of this year revealed no action was being taken.

Mr Bridge said failure to secure the site is a “safeguarding risk” for Tong school - attracting people to the school site who should not be there, including rough sleepers.

It had to close for a day due to a fire at the premises and has suffered attacks on its minibuses. In April last year, more than £9,000 worth of damage was caused to two of the vehicles, taking them out of action for two months.

The court heard there are “constant calls” to the police regarding nuisance and fires, plus items being thrown from the roof at vehicles and pedestrians.

Fires have taken up a great deal of time for the fire service. Back in September 2017, 12 fire engines and 70 firefighters were called to the scene and firefighters have had to undertake specific training in relation to the site.

Emma Downing, for the brothers, said they purchased the site as they had outgrown their Liversedge factory. Whilst they had concerns about its location - it being next to a secondary school - after taking legal advice they decided to go ahead.

However, the court heard this was then “fraught with difficulties” and they threw good money after bad on a site where a planning application would be unsuccessful.

Ms Downing said they then found another site for the factory, which then became their focus. She said they accepted there was a problem and they could have done more, but it was not a “blatant disregard” for the site and while they had employed people to undertake work, no sooner had they secured it, more damage would be caused.

She said that on one visit, after they had been told to secure the site, this was found to have been done and they also ensured there was public liability insurance in place for the premises. This year, they have also employed someone to attend to make sure the site is safe and secure.

Ms Downing said they are now researching if the site could be used for the benefit of the local community and added the brothers are “hard working” family men of good character.

Magistrates said the brothers had concentrated on getting the other site up and running to the detriment of looking after the Yorkshire Martyrs site, which they bought with good intentions. They were each ordered to pay £7,280 at a rate of £300 per month.