OAPs stage housing occupation over closure bid

Jo Hopkin and her fellow residents have vowed to barricade themselves into their homes if necessary. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Jo Hopkin and her fellow residents have vowed to barricade themselves into their homes if necessary. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A BAND of defiant pensioners has told housing bosses seeking to evict them that they “will not be going anywhere”.

Led by 87-year-old resident Jo Hopkin, residents of Cairn Housing Association’s
Laverockbank Terrace have vowed to occupy their complex and have said they will be seeking legal advice over the decision to close the facility.

She said: “If it comes to it we’ll barricade ourselves in and they’ll have to forcibly remove us.”

We exclusively told on Saturday how the sheltered housing unit is to close. Cairn informed 42 elderly tenants within its five city complexes the shock evictions are 
necessary due to repeated financial losses.

However, the move has prompted a backlash from residents and their relatives outraged the seniors are being treated like second-class citizens.

Former teacher and a grandmother-of-seven Jo, a long-time community activist, said: “We’re all shocked by this bombshell, but if they want to move us out then the only place we’d accept would be the Balmoral Hotel, other than that we are not going anywhere. They think we’re all past it and senile but, let me tell you, we’re not.

“This is our home, a place where we all thought we’d see out our days and we have no plans on moving.”

It is understood that tenants are seeking advice on the legality of Cairn’s decision.

Jo, who has lived at the complex for eight years, added: “We have never been consulted on this. The whole thing has an air of ‘like it or lump it’. We hope that the residents of the other units join us in saying no to these shocking plans.”

The other sheltered complexes affected by the proposed closures include Grange Loan, Braid Avenue, Church Hill and Columba Road.

It is not known if pensioners at the other homes intend to join the protests. But Rosemarie Watt, from Ravelston, whose 97-year-old mother is a resident of Columba Road in Blackhall, gave an indication OAPs elsewhere could join the fray.

She said: “There are definitely residents at Columba Road who will not go until they are forced. My mother has lived in the unit for six years and in the area for 25 years.

“She really wishes to keep her doctor and her church and so we are very restricted in moving her.”

Cairn director of business services Rory Gaffney said: “The views of our residents will be listened to during the consultation process and will be considered by the board of management.”

Closures are expected to take place next year and Cairn has started discussions with Viewpoint Housing Association and Edinburgh City Council in regards vacancies within their housing stock.

Some 21 jobs are at risk.