Repairs investment for high rise flats in Edinburgh

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Residents say they are aware of the need to heat and ventilate their homes to avoid damp, but believe it is too expensive

Six blocks of high rise flats in Edinburgh are to benefit from a £7.5m renovation investment.

City of Edinburgh Council will spend the money on the improvements after tenants in Muirhouse revealed squalid living conditions.

Almost 70 properties across the six blocks have reported dampness over the last two years.

Detailed proposals will be brought forward next month, but the repairs are expected to take place over five years.

Earlier this year, council tenants spoke out over damp and mould in the Muirhouse high rise blocks - and called for action to improve living conditions.

Two of the blocks, Birnies and Fidra Court, have had "external fabric improvements".

The remaining four high rises are included in the council's investment plan for significant modernisation, which the authority says will "help eradicate dampness and mould".

'Fuel poverty'

Peter Strong, north west locality manager, said: "We have got tenants saying that although they are aware of the need to ventilate and heat their properties, there's a real issue of fuel poverty. They feel that their heating systems are too expensive to run."

A total of 68 properties across the six blocks, where dampness has been reported over the last two years, are to be surveyed by Christmas. Council officers confirmed that 88% of them would be completed by the end of November.

Graham Hutchison, Conservative councillor for Almond Ward, said: "There obviously were issues raised over the lack of a complaints system for emergency repairs from residents. I'm delighted to see that's been addressed."

In the last three financial years, there have been 30 complaints made by residents from the six Muirhouse blocks in relation to repairs. Nine of these complaints were upheld, 18 were not upheld and three are being investigated.

Louise Young, Liberal Democrat councillor for Almond Ward, said: "I have seen a notable decline in the number of complaints I am getting from residents in the high rise flats. I think the level of communication is making a huge difference."

Housing and economy convener, Kate Campbell, welcomed the improvements.

She said: "Investing in existing council homes is as important as building new ones. The report sets out the planned work in the blocks and it was good to see that being welcomed by committee.

"It's really important that tenants are kept informed and have confidence that the long term investment will address the issues they are facing. It was also encouraging to hear that local councillors are receiving feedback that communication has improved."

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