90-year old Scottish man left with no heating during coldest week of the year
John McAteer was left shivering and forced to sleep in his living room after a gas engineer told him his boiler could not be used because it was dangerous.
In freezing temperatures and snow, the elderly Grangemouth resident was given a small heater by contractors working for Falkirk Council and left to endure the cold.
Speaking this week, Mr McAteer said: "They gave me a tiny wee heater that that wouldn't melt ice-cream!
"I phoned them up and told them it was a heater for a doll's house, so they brought me another one exactly the same."
"Thankfully, I have a gas fire and although I haven't used it since my wife died nine years ago, I still get it serviced every year so I put it on.
"But I was far too cold to sleep in my bedroom, so I had to sleep on the couch.
"I couldn't even have a shower because the thought of getting dried in the freezing cold was too much."
Mr McAteer, who is fit and active despite his years, eventually phoned his brother who contacted a family friend who brought him a better heater for his bedroom.
Since then he has been given a new heating system including radiators which he says are "very posh" and lovely and warm.
However, Grangemouth councillor Allyson Black has now asked Falkirk Council to look again at its procedures as she is worried this was not a one-off incident.
She says she recently had another constituent, aged 96, who had ongoing issues with her boiler and had been left in the cold while waiting for repairs to be made.
At the moment, when repair requests are put in to Falkirk Council they are then passed on to a contractor.
But Ms Black says that extra measures must be put in place to make sure that this is followed-up, in particular for tenants who are elderly or vulnerable.
She said: "If contractors are going into people's houses and finding an older or a vulnerable person they should really be telling the council so they can put in back-up measures to make sure the person is okay.
"This case raises so many safety issues.
"In this case, he was mobile but others might not be so able and even sleeping on the couch raises concerns, if he had fallen or anything."
Both constituents now have new boilers and the council says it will investigate what went wrong.
A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “We completely agree that this should never have happened, and we apologise to the tenants affected.
"We stress that the protection and wellbeing of our tenants, particularly the most vulnerable, is extremely important.
“We have raised the matter with the contractor and are carrying out a thorough investigation to ensure that this situation cannot happen again.
“Measures are being put in place to safeguard against any similar situation arising again.”