ACTION is urgently needed to stop the heart of Penzance from crumbling, a councillor has said.
Cornelius Olivier said he was shocked to see buildings falling apart and in desperate need of repair.
He believed it would take too long to wait for landlords to foot the bill and said the works should be paid for through cash earmarked for the town as part of the new Sainsbury's supermarket build.
"I was taken aback when I stopped to look at each building and see what poor shape they are in," said Councillor Olivier, who represents the Penzance central ward.
"It does have an effect – this is all part of the decline."
Along with a member of the authority's planning department, the Labour councillor walked around Market Jew Street, Chapel Street, Causewayhead and Alverton Street.
"We examined every building individually and found a very large number of problems," he said.
Rotting window panes, blocked gutters and greenery sprouting from cracked walls were all spotted on the fact-finding walk.
"Because of the perception of Market Jew Street being in very poor shape I wanted to make a start to improve the appearance of the area and then see what can be done."
The eye-opener also proved vital for buildings in need of immediate action. "There are several where immediate action needs taking as there was a safety issue," he said.
Mr Olivier claimed the state of the buildings was part of a wider issue of a downward spiral of the high street, but he believes a spruce-up would have a positive impact.
"We are in a cycle of decline and the more neglected things look the less people want to use it and businesses don't want to invest in it."
But one hurdle is persuading those who own the buildings to do something about the maintenance.
Mr Olivier believed the answer was to launch an action group, backed by a central pot of cash. He is keen to see the chamber of commerce, Penzance Town Council and Cornwall Council work together to find the money to carry out the maintenance.
"It is the responsibility of owners to maintain their properties but I do not think we can spend a long time deciding whose responsibility it could be," he said.
"We've just got to get it done."
He believes some of the cash could come from the section 106 money – from a planning permission agreement – earmarked for the town from the Sainsbury's development.
Praising talks to rejuvenate the high street, Paul Young, chairman of the Penzance Civic Society, said: "There are a lot of neglected buildings in Penzance. Simple maintenance repays a lot, just like the old saying, 'a stitch in time saves nine'."
Do you know of any Penzance grot spots that could do with a spruce up? E-mail your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org