Call for more action to fix Muirhouse high-rise flats

Adam McVey has been urged to accelerate refurbishment work in Muirhouse. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Adam McVey has been urged to accelerate refurbishment work in Muirhouse. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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The second-in-command of the city council’s housing policy has sparked a political row by calling for more action to improve living conditions at high-rise flats.

Labour Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron, vice-convener of the council’s housing and economy committee, urged council leader Adam McVey to “accelerate” refurbishment work to six high-rise flats in Muirhouse.

The council came under fire after tenant union Living Rent revealed poor living conditions including mould, damp and asbestos risk at six council-run high-rise flats.

A package of improvements is being carried out by the authority, but Cllr Cameron has called for more action.

She said: “It would be a good idea if the council could look at a way in which the execution of our commitment to invest in all council-owned high-rise housing stock can be accelerated and that we have a clear timetable and methodology for getting that done.

“I’m delighted that there have been regular Friday surgeries now established and that a newsletter will be going through tenants’ properties. We also need to look at improvements that can be made to tenant facilities for washing and drying clothes and communal laundry in 
tenants’ homes. “Many of the people in our high-rise properties are tenants that have had the longest tenancies in this city. It’s important for them to have safe, warm and energy-efficient homes to the equivalent of the new-build housing that we are delivering.

“We should look at ways in which we can accelerate our refurbishment programme for high-rise properties.”

Cllr McVey was asked to apologise on behalf of the council to the tenants affected by the poor conditions by Conservative Cllr Graham Hutchison.

The council leader offered an apology and outlined what was being done to address the situation.

He said: “Where council services fall below the standards that we all expect them to hit, this administration will always apologise for that because we take responsibility.

“The £7.5 million is part of a much wider programme of refurbishment and upgrade around the city – £500m over the next 15 years.

“We want this to be led by the priorities of the people who live in these buildings and that’s the process that we have committed to. Ultimately our aim is to improve the standard of our housing stock across our estate and therefore improve the quality of life of the tenants of those properties.”

Housing and economy convener Cllr Kate Campbell said: “Investing in existing homes is as important as building new ones. The £7.5m we have committed to 
improvements in Muirhouse will mean we can replace roofs, upgrade external fabrics and heating systems and refurbish common areas.

“We’ll be speaking to tenants to make sure investment is prioritised where they tell us it needs to be. There will be a focus on getting the work done as quickly as possible in the areas that need it the most.”