Edinburgh has one in ten council houses not fitted with legally required smoke alarms

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Three-quarters of Scottish councils, including Edinburgh, do not fully comply with law

More than one in ten council houses in Edinburgh is not fitted with legally required interlinked smoke alarms a year after the deadline for them being installed.

And the Capital is not alone – only a quarter of councils in Scotland comply fully with the legislation by having all their homes equipped with the alarms; and only two authorities met the set date of February 1, 2022. The figures were revealed by Lothian MSP and Scottish Conservative housing spokesman Miles Briggs after all 32 Scottish councils were asked for data under Freedom of Information. Eight councils including Midlothian and West Lothian, reported 100 per cent of their homes were fitted with the alarms. Inverclyde and East Ayrshire were the only ones who were fully compliant by the deadline.

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Edinburgh – which has more than 20,000 council homes – said at the time that 80.29 per cent of its properties had the alarms, meaning one in five was without. But the city council now says 87 per cent of its council houses are fitted with the required smoke alarm system, which means more than one in ten is not. East Lothian was the only council failing to provide information.

The council says 87 per cent of Edinburgh' council houses have the legally-required alarms fitted.The council says 87 per cent of Edinburgh' council houses have the legally-required alarms fitted.
The council says 87 per cent of Edinburgh' council houses have the legally-required alarms fitted.

The new law requires every home in Scotland to have an interlinked smoke alarm system, with an alarm in every living room and hallway and a heat alarm in the kitchen. If one smoke alarm goes off, they all go off. In addition, carbon monoxide detectors are legally required in every room that has a carbon-fuelled appliance.

Mr Briggs said he had raised concerns with ministers before the law came into force and, amid a widely reported shortage of alarms in shops and online, urged them to push the deadline back to prevent householders becoming law-breakers through no fault of their own. But despite criticism of the Scottish Government’s public awareness campaign, ministers refused to delay the introduction of the new law.

Mr Briggs said: "It didn't feel like councils had the workforce to do this and certainly hadn't been given the resources to meet this target on time. This was handed to councils in an unrealistic timeframe to deliver and they set councils up to fail.”

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He said he was concerned that so many council homes in the Capital were still without the required alarms. “If this is ministers saying this is a vital piece of fire safety legislation, they need to get properties up to standard on this so I don't think it's acceptable. But I wouldn't blame the council because I don't think they have been properly supported by SNP and Green ministers in taking this policy forward.

"Some of the concerns I was raising early on, about the workforce not being in place and the alarms not necessarily being available either, were issues we were being warned about at committee – that’s why I raised them – but I was told by ministers I was scaremongering and councils would all meet this. Those concerns have now become a reality across Scotland. It's another example of the government expecting councils to do something but then not giving them the forward planning time to do it or the funding.”

Edinburgh housing convener Jane Meagher said the council owned 20,131 homes and 17,461 homes (87 per cent) had been fitted with an LD2 integrated smoke alarm system. “Work is ongoing to engage with tenants whom we have not been able to contact or who have refused to grant access to contractors. All council homes have at least one hard wired smoke detector.”