Murdie Properties faces ruin over Corstorphine fire repairs

Gordon Murdie at the scene of the fire at the Kirk Loan community centre. Picture: Joey Kelly

Gordon Murdie at the scene of the fire at the Kirk Loan community centre. Picture: Joey Kelly

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A LEADING campaigner in the Capital’s statutory notices fiasco has had assets belonging to his company seized – after the firm failed to pay a shared repair debt worth more than £8000.

The Evening News understands quantity surveyor Gordon Murdie could see Murdie Properties Limited liquidated at the start of next week if the city council does not receive funds owed for emergency work carried out at Kirk Loan, Corstorphine.

Mr Murdie’s company was invoiced for significant “make safe” repairs, which were ordered after a fire in October 2013.

The blaze swept through the adjoining wall and engulfed Corstorphine Community and Youth Centre.

However, no cash was received from Murdie Properties, leading to a court hearing in which a sheriff empowered the council to enforce debt recovery.

At the time of the fire, the company had leased the property to a fitness studio operator.

Mr Murdie has insisted liability for the £8303 debt rests with the firm, not him personally.

Companies House records show he is sole director of Murdie Properties.

He said: “The fire at the Old Carnegie Library and adjacent Community Centre and Masonic Lodge in 2013 destroyed a piece of Corstorphine’s heart and history.

“As a director and shareholder of the limited company that owned the historic Carnegie Library part, and leased it to Elite Fitness Studios, I had hoped that it would all have been reinstated by now.

“Instead, due to the vagaries of a long, frustrating and complex insurance battle whereby premiums paid for buildings insurance did not lead to a settlement, the limited company saw its sole asset go up in flames and was left with nothing.

“A limited company totally wiped out in a morning by an electrical fire, the remains repossessed and sold on by the commercial lender and outstanding mortgage settled by a lender’s interest policy which the limited company had also taken out.”

A key critic when details of the city’s statutory notices scandal came to light, Mr Murdie has been working with residents to cut council bills issued for work carried out.

The controversial system – which saw neighbours in shared tenements use city-approved builders for repairs before being charged later – was first suspended and later scrapped amid claims individuals were being asked to pay too much.

Mr Murdie, who stood as a Conservative candidate in last year’s Leith Walk by-election, said he was not responsible for the debt.

“I have no personal liability, at law or otherwise, to the council arising from a fire which wiped out the assets of a limited company,” he added.

“A limited company is not Gordon Murdie – it is its own separate legal entity. I did not start the fire and I find it hard to follow why our council has considered it of interest to rake over the ashes of the tragic fire.

“A limited company wiped out, a fitness studio business ruined, a vibrant community centre destroyed, the historic Carnegie Library destroyed, irreplaceable masonic artefacts destroyed.”

Meanwhile, residents’ leaders said the Kirk Loan community centre building, which hosted numerous groups, was still without a roof. Ken Swinney, secretary at Corstorphine Community Council, said: “It’s completely open-topped.

“It was leased out to all sorts of organisations. Corstorphine Youth Club was the major user. Everyone had to find other areas to use while the hall was unavailable. We are desperate to see it rebuilt and reopened.”

A city council spokesman said: “In October 2013, at the request of the fire service, our Shared Repairs team attended the Corstorphine Community Hall and Old Library following a serious fire. They oversaw significant structural engineering and other works to make the building safe.

“The owners were invoiced for their share of the costs and all but one settled. Court action was taken against the remaining debtor and the sheriff awarded in the council’s favour, granting us decree to recover the debt in full.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com