A COUPLE has accused housing bosses of turning their home into a “building site” and demanded new accommodation after the city council began improvement works at a block of flats.
Tenants Ann Harrison and Paul Woodward said conditions at their high-rise flat in Greendykes House in south Edinburgh had become unbearable and a danger to their health after the council started work to re-clad the block’s exterior and replace central heating and electrical and boiler systems.
Ms Harrison, 58, who is asthmatic, said the air in her flat was “thick with dust” caused by the removal of carpets, flooring and piping, and that her condition had worsened significantly since works began.
The couple said they were particularly worried after they saw workmen removing asbestos from the flat during the replacement of its boiler.
Although Ms Harrison and Mr Woodward, 48, raised their concerns with housing officers, they said nothing had been done and that alternative accommodation in the 80-apartment block was limited to a showflat which could only be used for short periods.
Ms Harrison, who works as a domestic and kitchen assistant at Castlegreen care home, told the News: “We shouldn’t be in the flat when they’re doing that [the work]. I have talked about it with my housing officer and he agreed it’s like a building site.
“My asthma is now much worse. I have an inhaler but I didn’t usually use it before, except when I really needed to. Before the work started I could go a week, two weeks possibly, and not use it. But I am using it constantly – every day now – and I’m getting attacks a few times a week.”
Ms Harrison, who has lived at Greendykes for five years, said the effect of the works was not only physical.
She said: “It’s stress as well. Other people have been complaining about it. There’s a Polish family living next to us and the wife said to us only the other week that her husband does night shift and he hasn’t had a wink of sleep since it started.”
Mr Woodward, head chef at Castlegreen care home, said: “Everything in the flat is unfinished. We are absolutely knackered – you have diggers and workers at seven o’clock in the morning and finishing at seven o’clock at night.”
Local politicians said there was a need for closer monitoring of works and their impact on tenants. Sheila Gilmore, Labour MP for Edinburgh East, said: “I realise that any works are likely to bring noise and disruption. With the refurbishment programme intensifying perhaps greater liaison with residents is required.
“I trust that the council and contractors are investigating all complaints in a timely manner.”
Housing bosses said they were satisfied all materials at Greendykes had been removed safely and that there were no risks to health.
A council spokesman said: “We do everything we can to keep any disturbance and inconvenience to our tenants to an absolute minimum when we are carrying out improvements to their homes.
“Most tenants have welcomed the work that has been carried out as it will lead to more modern, comfortable and cheaper-to-heat homes.
“However, we are sorry that some feel the work has been so disruptive and we would be happy to meet with [the couple] to discuss their concerns and work together to find a way of resolving them.”