Residents living in fear after council threaten to kick down doors

Residents were left in fear after letters from the council stated that they would force entry into their homes.

Thursday, 23rd November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:45 am
George and Diane Donald with the letter at their home in Portobello

Sheriff officers are said to have hand-delivered proposed forced entry notices to innocent residents expecting their annual gas service checks, leaving people in fear of someone knocking down their door.

One woman claims her door had been barged down and new locks installed meaning, when she got home from work at 6pm, she was unable to gain access to her home.

She says she received no letters from the council prior to their attendance and that the incident turned into a medical emergency with her urgently needing medication.

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She was eventually able to return home at midnight after a joiner was called to the property.

Dad-of-two Chris Heggie, 54, received a letter on November 17 stating the gas check at his Leith home was due today.

However, a visit from sheriff officers on Tuesday left him confused and shook up.

The letter stated “after several attempts and a courier hand-delivered letter requesting access to the property occupied by you in order that an annual gas routine service checks can be carried out, you have failed to respond resulting in this essential work NOT being carried out”.

The letter threatens forced entry to the property between 8am and 5pm with the council wishing to recover the £200 costs.

Chris said: “I feel very threatened. I am concerned about my family.

“My boys have autism and if someone came charging down the door they would be very stressed out and it would have a detrimnental affect on them.”

He added: “The customer service desk said on Tuesday someone would get back to me in five days – which is simply not good enough.

“I need reassurance that my door won’t be getting knocked down. What if a vulnerable pensioner was a victim to this?”

Portabello residents Diane and George Donald have had an identical situation with the couple seeking a written apology from the council.

Diane said: “It is absolutely dreadful. The sheriff officers were quite cheeky and ignorant actually. It didn’t make any sense.

“I’m now living in fear of someone coming and knocking my door down which is horrible. We were planning on staying in on Thursday and I’ve never not let anyone from the council into my home.”

The residents spoke with the council’s gas service team which told them there had been a computer error meaning there had been a number of complaints of a similar nature.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “The safety of our tenants is our top priority and it is important that these gas safety checks are carried out. We are looking into what happened in these cases and if letters have been issued in error we would like to apologise for any distressed caused.”