Cammy Day: Tower blocks now billed after free heat

The Niddrie blocks have enjoyed free heat. Picture SWNS
The Niddrie blocks have enjoyed free heat. Picture SWNS
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TENANTS of two city tower blocks who have enjoyed 18 months’ free heating are finally being billed for the energy they use, housing convener Cammy Day has claimed.

Councillor Day said charges had been introduced from yesterday – just a day after the Evening News revealed the cost of the unbilled heating had cost taxpayers almost £100,000.

But the communal heating system at “Toasty Towers” – Greendykes and Wauchope House in Niddrie – is still not working properly.

Residents were left without hot water for much of the weekend and then forced to endure a 24-hour disconnection while workmen tried to identify the problem.

The council had to send out letters of apology but insisted the weekend disruption would lead to a more reliable system in future.

The new £2.1 million communal heating system – designed to save energy and cut costs – was installed in December 2012, but the council said it was unable to start billing because three of the properties could not be connected.

Two of the three have now been linked up, but one tenant is refusing to allow the connection.

Cllr Day said tenants had not been billed because the system had not been fully commissioned. He said: “We wanted to make sure it’s all fully up and running and everyone is up to speed on how it works and what their bill is likely to be.”

He said issues had been thrown up as a result of that process and there had been recent problems with a Scottish Power fault last month and concerns at the weekend about water pressure.

He said: “It’s a frustration for me. This whole programme is about helping people in fuel poverty.”

But the housing convener said charging had begun from yesterday. “We need to have this system up and running properly. We cannot have people not being charged for energy.”

One tenant in Wauchope House said residents should pay for the energy they used – but she claimed the system was still not working properly.

She said: “There was no hot water for a quite a time over the weekend.

“I had an inspector round the other day who said the system showed I wasn’t using any heating, even though I use hot water every day and I had the heating on until the end of April. They said it was as if I wasn’t living there. I don’t know how many other people are in the same situation.

“Some people would like the free heat to go on forever, but I have it on my conscience that we’ve getting this free heating while so many people are struggling.”

A council spokeswoman said: “There was an irregular supply of heating and hot water during the weekend. Our contractor is currently on site to identify the source of the service interruption. All residents have been notified and will be kept up to date with progress. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”