Surveyors to inspect city’s statutory notice repairs

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INDEPENDENT surveyors will be brought in to inspect work carried out under the city’s scandal-hit statutory notice system, it emerged today.

A new process will see an outside firm review and scrutinise the repairs which have been carried out following any complaint.

It comes as a major investigation continues into the property repair system which allowed the council to hire contractors to carry out work on private property then send the bill to the owners.

It emerged earlier this month that four members of staff had been sacked from their roles in the department, while others remain suspended.

Claims of corruption, mismanagement and incompetence have been made against a number of council workers, while certain building contractors have been accused of cranking up the cost for building works, completing substandard work, billing for unnecessary repairs and charging for fictional works.

Under the new complaints system, the independent surveyors will make a recommendation to a panel chaired by senior council officials, including council finance and legal experts, which will decide on what action should be taken.

If the person that lodged the complaint is not happy with the panel’s judgement, they will be able to lodge an appeal with Mark Turley, director of the services for communities department at the council, or the Scottish Public Sector Ombudsman.

Regular updates on the decisions and sample cases will also be provided to a “sounding board” made up of councillors from all political parties in order to ensure that the system is open and transparent.

The new system has been set up after it emerged that 650 complaints have been received by the council – with officials warning that they expect the figure to increase as residents see other complaints being investigated.

Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city’s finance leader, said: “We will keep the sounding board and that means that, if we need to tweak this system, we can do so. This is to make a start on dealing with the backlog of complaints and restoring the council’s reputation.”

SNP councillor Stefan Tymkewycz, who first raised his concerns about the process more than a year ago, said: “I am satisfied with the progress made, as the councillor who first revealed the difficulties within the department.

“Hopefully, these complaints procedures put in place will restore trust in the service in the future.”