City staff break into stroke victim’s home

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BLUNDERING housing officers have left a stroke victim devastated after forcing entry to her home to inspect her gas meter – while she lay helpless in hospital.

Barbara Williamson, 51, who has the rare brain condition hydrocephalus and is recovering from a stroke in Liberton Hospital, was reduced to tears after discovering the council workers had forced their way into her home to carry out a routine gas safety check.

Her long-term friend Derek Kitching, 59, claims he had repeatedly contacted council staff to tell them his friend was in hospital.

But the workers failed to heed his advice and forced their way into the Dickson Street property. They said the cost of forcing their way in to read the meter would be £200.

He said: “When I told her, she burst into tears and thought she was going to jail – just for a fine of £200.

“It’s no fun seeing someone so vulnerable in that state.”

Mr Kitching, who has been looking after his friend’s home while she recovers in hospital, said he was stunned when Ms Williamson received a second letter earlier this week – making the same threat.

He agreed to let housing officers into Ms Williamson’s home but had to change the date. After a number of phone calls, Mr Kitching successfully cancelled the appointment, only to discover a few days later that a notice had been left in Ms Williamson’s letterbox telling her the locks had been changed.

Council staff said he would have to pick up a new set of keys from Chesser House.

“It’s the incompetence of it,” he said. “I could just have stayed in the flat that day if I had known – and they’ve wasted money, there’s no doubt about that, as they had a spare key.”

A council spokesman apologised for any distress or inconvenience caused.

He said: “We did try to arrange access on several occasions without success but when we tried the key for the property it appeared to be faulty.”

He said that carrying out gas checks is a statutory