Probe into council tenants’ free heat for year

It's nice and warm at Wauchope House ' but the heat is on housing officials. Picture: Greg Macvean
It's nice and warm at Wauchope House ' but the heat is on housing officials. Picture: Greg Macvean
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AN investigation has been launched into a botched “super boiler” project that has provided hundreds of tower block residents with free heating for almost a year.

City chiefs have demanded a report into the blunder that let costs for the £2.1 million project soar and left housing officials scrambling to explain what went wrong.

Up to £30,000 has been spent heating the high rises.

The department has so far failed to identify when tenants at Wauchope and Greendykes House – which contain 170 flats – will begin paying their own energy bills, having been afforded free heating since a huge communal boiler was installed by Easyheat Systems last December.

Officials claim the project has stalled because four properties are not yet connected to the district heating system and they have failed to gain access to council houses.

In online testimonials, bosses at Easyheat Systems have quoted the cost of the installation at up to £4 million but it is understood the city council ordered the posts removed.

Housing chiefs have refuted this figure but admit they do not know the final cost.

Councillor Jason Rust, housing sokesman for the Edinburgh Conservatives, welcomed news of a full report into the handling of the project and said management faced “serious questions”.

“Answers are urgently required as to how this long-running situation came about and what the costs to the council have been,” he said.

“It seems that there are serious questions as to project management and we will be closely scrutinising the report next month.”

It is believed an understanding had been given not to charge tenants until the council was satisfied the super boiler was working efficiently and residents understood how to operate the new system.

A letter has now been sent to all 172 flats explaining that they are likely be charged for heating in the new year.

A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh City Council said: “The new heating system has been installed in most homes. Subject to tenant agreement, the remaining homes will be connected as soon as possible.

“Arrangements for charging for heating will be put in place once the new heating system is fully operational and will be subject to consultation with the tenants affected. Project costs are not finalised.”

A full report will be discussed at the next health, social care and housing committee, on January 28 next year.