Taxpayers pay extra month of flats’ heating bill

Cammy Day had yesterday said residents in the Niddrie flats were being billed. Picture: Neil Hanna
Cammy Day had yesterday said residents in the Niddrie flats were being billed. Picture: Neil Hanna
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BUNGLING council bosses have admitted that tenants of two city tower blocks who have enjoyed free heat and hot water for 18 months are still not being charged for their energy – despite saying the opposite just 24 hours earlier.

Housing convener Cammy Day told the Evening News just yesterday that residents at “Toasty Towers” – Greendykes and Wauchope House in Niddrie – were being billed from July 1. But now officials have revealed the 172 flats will continue to get free heating and hot water for at least another month.

A council source said the authority had planned to start charging from the start of this month, but then discovered it was obliged to give four weeks’ notice to tenants.

But the letters giving the required notice will not be sent out to residents until after the acting head of housing Michael Thain returns from holiday on Monday.

One frustrated tenant said: “I don’t know what to make of it. It’s all a bit of a farce. This has all gone on far too long.”

A new communal heating system was installed in the two blocks in December 2012 as part of a programme save energy and cut costs, but it has been dogged by faults and the council was unable to start billing residents because not all the properties could be connected. One tenant is still refusing to allow a connection.

So tenants have had free heat and hot water at a cost to taxpayers of almost £100,000.

A problem with water pressure resulted in the system being off for much of the weekend, but the council said the fault had been rectified.

A council spokeswoman confirmed tenants needed a month’s notice before charges could be introduced.

Cllr Day said: “The issue with the heating system has now been resolved and residents of Greendykes and Wauchope House will soon be receiving letters confirming the energy charge and ways in which they will be able to pay.”