Edinburgh trams: Leith man whose house 'wrecked' by tram works hits out at council over repairs costs

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Edinburgh house needs walls rebuilt after damage by tram works – but council won’t cover the costs.

An Edinburgh man whose home needs two walls rebuilt following damage by tram works said he’s been ‘thrown to the wolves’, after the council refused to pay for all required repairs.

Martin Smith said the heavy piling works outside and at the depot site across the road from his home on Constitution Place have been ‘utterly disastrous’ for his house and is now seeking legal advice. The 49-year-old has accused the trams team at the council of failing to take steps to stop further damage, after he first notified them in 2010.

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Following extensive damage to the Victorian gatehouse, surveyors confirmed it’s now in need of structural repairs. Mr Smith says it is leaning to one side, has cracked walls outside and inside, window frames falling away and cabinets have fallen off walls in the kitchen. Rain water runs through the house where the gutters have come away from slates.

Martin Smith wants council to pay for repairsMartin Smith wants council to pay for repairs
Martin Smith wants council to pay for repairs

Mr Smith said: “For years we lived on what was essentially their construction site while they wrecked our house. It has a shared foundation with the old dock gates, which were removed during some of the work to protect them. But no surveys were carried out for our home. Some cracks appeared in first phase works and we complained but the council denied any liability. We went out and begged workmen to use different machines. Over the years damage has got progressively worse.”

"Now we feel we have no choice but to get lawyers, which we can't afford. We’ve just been thrown to the wolves. We got a survey done that confirms damage was caused by the tram works but they’ve changed their tune and said they won’t pay for repairs, only a contribution. They’ve lied and said we didn't tell them about the initial damage back when it first started. When we asked about insurance they said they did have a policy but didn't want to pursue it because it could lead others to claim.”

The building, dating from 1890, is one of the few remaining examples of original Dock Buildings and is in a conservation area. However, no risk assessments on it have been carried out during tram works.

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After previously confirming the total repairs would be paid for by the project, the council agreed to progress interim repairs. But officials later advised Mr Smith only a ‘contribution' to the total cost will be paid. He also says he had to get the roof and internal walls fixed to stop water leaking into the house, after the council didn’t carry out remedial repairs as stated.

Works went on for years outside the houseWorks went on for years outside the house
Works went on for years outside the house

Mr Smith said he has been cast aside as ‘collateral damage’ for the project and said his chronic health condition has worsened due to stress. He said: “The experience of trying to protect our home over the years has been devastating and has completely disrupted our lives. We are now being forced to pay money to lawyers to resolve damage they have caused or pay to repair their damage to our home ourselves. It’s outrageous.”

An Edinburgh council spokesperson said: “We can't comment on a live claim.” Trams to Newhaven has been contacted for comment.

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