Edinburgh Council blamed bird rules for failing to fix pensioner's roof

Margaret Luke wanted the repairs carried out before birds got into her roof.
Margaret Luke wanted the repairs carried out before birds got into her roof.
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PENSIONER Margaret Luke asked the council to repair holes in the fascia board in front of her roof in time to stop birds getting in. Five months on, with the work still undone, she got a letter telling her it would have to be postponed until autumn - because the birds had got in.

The council said there were “many rules and regulations” which meant they could be prosecuted if they started work while birds were nesting in the roof.

Mrs Luke, 77, from Currie, first requested the repairs at the beginning of February.

“I wanted it done before the birds came because last year a couple of sparrows got into the roof,” she said.

In March, a joiner turned up at the house in Palmer Place, where Mrs Luke has lived for 20 years, but could not carry out the work because no scaffolding had been put up.

“A few weeks ago another chap appeared at the door saying he’d come to fix the roof and he showed me the email saying the scaffolding was already in place - but of course it wasn’t.

“Then I got a letter saying they can’t do anything until September or October because there are birds nesting.”

The letter acknowledged a “breakdown in communication” over the scaffolding and apologised for the delay and any distress or inconvenience. It added: “Unfortunately when this was brought to our attention birds had nested in the roof space which prevents us from commencing works until nesting season is over and the birds have left.. There are many rules and regulations regarding this and should we commence work while the birds are nesting here we could be liable to prosecution.”

When the Evening News contacted the council they said they had no record of Mrs Luke’s repairs request before June 12 but they sent workmen to visit the property and found there were no birds roosting after all.

Housing and economy convener Kate Campbell said: “We have apologised to Mrs Luke and will identify why her initial request was not followed up. We have inspected the property and will be carrying out repairs, including replacing part of the fascia board near the roof, by early next week.

“Officers will review these and other cases to identify actions we can take as part of a wider series of improvements to the responsiveness of the service.”