Midlothian woman ‘forced to sleep in freezing caravan’ amid dispute with property developer

A 60-year-old woman has claimed she is being forced to sleep in a caravan in freezing winter temperatures amid an ongoing dispute with a property developer.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 2:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 2:25 pm

Shona MacDonald’s oil supply ran out in November leaving her with no heating system in the place she has called home for 55 years.

She claims a fence that was erected as part of the Mactaggart and Mickel development - Millerhill at Shawfair - has restricted her oil supplier gaining access to the tank located in the back garden of her Midlothian home.

The bitter cold has left her three bedroom semi in Dalkeith uninhabitable, waking up in the morning and having to scrape ice from the inside of her windows.

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Shona McDonald is currently living in a caravan in her front garden.

She reluctantly purchased a caravan for £100 which she has been living in since November - even eating her Christmas dinner inside.

With no access to hot water, Ms MacDonald has spent the past couple of months showering at leisure centres and occasionally at friends’ houses.

She said: “My home feels like I’m living in a fridge. I’ve been living in a caravan since November and it’s all about survival. I don’t have £17,000 to change my heating system to gas. Without my caravan I’d have frozen over Christmas and the New Year. I had to scrape ice off the inside of my windows just last week.

“It has been absolutely freezing and I’m wearing layers and layers of clothing.

“I’ve been miserable and it’s just horrible knowing my beautiful house is just sat there.

“I don’t think I can keep living like this for much longer.”

The Millerhill at Shawfair development began in 2015 to bring 138 homes – a mix ranging from one-bedroom apartments up to five-bedroom detached villas, and 35 affordable homes.

To enable Ms MacDonald short term access to oil the firm agreed to arrange for an oil delivery to her home through her neighbour’s garden within the development.

But Ms MacDonald says she has contacted two gas suppliers who have both responded stating they would be unable to carry out the delivery in this way.

She added: “It is absolutely shocking that I’m living like a clampit in a caravan in the freezing cold.

“My cat Smudge is living upstairs with her two kittens with an electric blanket on 24 hours a day so they can keep warm.

“All I want is to go back to a normal life back in my home.”

Mactaggart & Mickel are currently exploring the possibility of fitting a hard pipe, costing £1,500, free of charge from the oil tank in the back garden to the front garden for easier access for her annual delivery of oil.

Ms MacDonald told the Evening News that she would take up the offer if it was possible in the near future.

A Mactaggart & Mickel spokesperson said: “The fencing is only around homes within the Mactaggart & Mickel Millerhill development and does not block access to Ms MacDonald’s home in any way.

“We have presented Ms MacDonald with a number of options to assist getting her oil tank filled.

“Over and above this, we have also offered to connect her premises to the permanent gas pipe in the street, free of charge, so that she has access to an additional heating source in future.”