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The last residents of derelict Livingston housing estate

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Media captionJoe and Isabel Baxter have lived in their house in Deans South for 53 years

There were once 240 inhabited houses on Livingston's Deans South housing estate in West Lothian.

Now there are only nine.

The houses were condemned 15 years ago, and while most people have left, a handful of families still live among the derelict buildings.

They claim the council has not offered them enough money to leave.

Now they are hopeful a developer will enable them to move on, but the council said it was not a complete solution.

'A house for a house'

Isabel and Joe Baxter have lived in their house in Deans South for 53 years.

Their immaculate home stands out among the derelict, boarded up buildings which surround it.

These council houses were condemned 15 years ago, and most people moved.

However the Baxters, who had bought their home, stayed.

The council tenants were re-housed, and Mrs Baxter said that was what they wanted - a house for a house.

Image caption Only nine of the original houses in South Deans are still occupied.

Mrs Baxter said West Lothian Council has never offered them enough money for theirs.

She said: "They're expecting us to just to go and take what they want to give us.

"They're not even giving us the valuation of the house.

"Our house was valued at £110,000 about 15 years ago.

"But they want to give us £41,000. It's not on. "

Image caption Most of the 240 homes at Deans South are uninhabited

Only nine of the original houses in South Deans are still occupied.

Joe Baxter said it can be a depressing place to live.

He said: "It's desperate because we've lost all our good neighbours.

"There's nobody left here at all and the condition of the place is not the best.

"It's just a worry now. We don't want to move now because 15 years have passed since this started."

Compulsory purchase orders

Now a developer, Springfield, has offered the residents a new house in return for theirs, with the idea that eventually the firm will be able to develop the area.

Most homeowners have accepted.

However, because Springfield has not secured a deal with all the householders, West Lothian Council said it was not a complete solution, because redevelopment cannot start until all the residents have left.

The local authority is still trying to buy the remaining houses, including the possibility of compulsory purchase orders.

'Caught up in circumstances'

Lawrence Fitzpatrick, West Lothian Council leader, said it could not offer any more money to homeowners.

He said: "I have to look from the council and the council taxpayers' point of view.

"The government valuer has placed this value on their houses.

"That's what they're worth. We cannot offer any more or we would be in serious audit problems.

"I feel very much for these people in the sense they're caught up in circumstances. We're caught by the law."

Image caption Kerry MacIntosh is the last one left on her block

Kerry MacIntosh is the last one left on her block.

She said being surrounded by empty, boarded-up houses makes her home cold and damp.

She has rejected all of the councils offers to move over the years, but wants to sell to Springfield.

She urged the council to back the Springfield offer, and to drop its effort to buy the houses.

"I want them to accept the solution from Springfield.

"There's no more the council can do. It's my house and it's for my children as well. This is our home.

"I've just not given in. I'm fighting for justice. The council's trying to take my home away from me and I want a new house for that."

Ms MacIntosh is not looking forward to another winter in her house, because she said living there has taken its toll on her health.

After 15 years, she and the other homeowners are determined to hold out for a house.

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