Emma, 7, pleads for new home after pals forced out

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A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD girl has written a heartfelt letter to the First Minister in which she pleads with him to help her family find a new home.

Emma Hamilton is fed up living in the rundown Deans South estate of Livingston, where she says she has no friends to play with.

The Deans Primary pupil tells Alex Salmond in her letter that many of the surrounding houses in the area, dubbed “Tumbledown Terrace”, are empty.

More than 180 council tenants, including Emma’s friends, who lived on the estate have been rehoused since faults were found in 2004.

The remaining families, who are private owners, are fighting for a fair price for their homes or a suitable replacement, and won a long-running battle earlier this year against council plans to demolish the properties.

West Lothian Council planned to buy up the homes using compulsory purchase orders (CPOs), but moves to evict residents were dashed by the Scottish Government.

In her letter, Emma writes: “Can you please try to help us to get a new home?

“I have no friends where I stay and I can’t go out to play on my own. I feel upset because I am lonely and have no friends when I get home from school. Please help me.”

Emma received a reply from the First Minister’s office a month later, advising mum Anne, 39, or dad Darren, to “explore the family’s housing options” by arranging a meeting with a housing officer.

Mr Hamilton said Emma decided to write the letter because she was “fed up” living in the estate.

The 40-year-old hospital porter added that their bungalow was currently being held up by scaffolding because of problems with the outside wall of the neighbouring council house.

He added: “All Emma’s pals in Deans South have been moved out over the years. There’s nobody else for her to play with. She hides it quite well but it has affected her.”

He added: “There were no expectations on my part from the letter. My wife helped Emma with it because the wee one wanted to do it.

“All we want is another house. We are not looking for any big financial settlement.”

West Lothian Council wanted to buy the remaining 51 homes in the estate, including the Hamiltons’ bungalow, for a fraction of their market value after already demolishing those belonging to council tenants.

Homeowners had fought since 2004, refusing to move out due to the level of compensation offered and arguing there was no proof that their homes were defective.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “While the First Minister cannot intervene in such individual cases, he will contact Emma’s constituency MSP, Angela Constance, to see if she can provide further assistance.”

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com

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