No financial help will be provided to private homeowners who discover a dangerous type of crumbling concrete in their homes, West Lothian council has been warned.
While the Housing Service Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) had it confirmed that 69 homes and 15 blocks of flats had been identified as having RAAC present, no number of privately owned homes was given.
It is expected the numbers of privately owned ex council homes affected will be much higher.
Conservative Councillor Alsion Adamson called for those who bought council homes which may now be affected by RAAC to be helped. It followed confirmation that owner occupiers would have to pay for surveys and any remedial work required themselves. The programme to repair council homes will cost £4million,
Councillor Adamson said members of the public, especially homeowners, are “frantic”, adding: “I’m already aware of people in a frenzy of panic I have already spoken to a constituent who thinks she may have RAAC in her home.”
However, officials then clarified that private homeowners were responsible for the costs of repair.
Councillor Robert de Bold SNP group depute leader asked: “Do we know how many private properties are affected by this and how many private tenancies?
Marjory Mackie. Housing Strategy & Development Manager, told the PDSP: “We don’t have that information. We have an indication of private properties however we have not surveyed the private estate, it’s only our council properties that have been surveyed so far.”
She added that the council had notified owner occupiers in areas neighbouring affected council properties of the survey results.
Councillor de Bold said : “If these properties are private let tenancies what help and assistance would we offer these tenants and similarly is there any help and assistance that council be forthcoming to owner occupiers?
Mrs Mackie replied: “We have certainly provided them with access to information as a council on the website. However it’s worth noting that government policy and legislation does state that maintenance and investment of private properties is the sole responsibility of the respective owners.
“However there’s links to various other professional organisations for those owner occupiers on our internet.”
Graeme Struthers. Depute chief executive responsible for housing said:“ I think members are aware of discussions the council has been having regarding general fund properties regarding St Kentigern’s, but also there have been wider discussion regarding the housing context. Its not unique to West Lothian regarding the challenge of RAAC in housing. It’s in a number of other local authorities.”
Mr Struthers said the council was waiting for clarification from the Scottish government both on housing and the wider issue of RAAC.
Chairing the meeting, Councillor George Paul said the short life working group had already asked the Scottish Government for funding to deal with RAAC which had been refused.
Councillors were also told to learn from the mistakes made with homeowners in Deans South – a new build estate which had to be evacuated and demolished after the discovery of RAAC concrete – as it tackles the discovery of RAAC in council homes.
Cllr Adamson admitted “the revelation of RAAC in homes evokes memories of Deans South.
Mrs Mackie said the problems identified in the council homes were different to the issues in the Deans South Homes.
“Deans South was quite a different situation. There it was Siporex walls and roofs. It was the walls causing the issues with supporting the roof.
“In this situation what we are looking at as a council is a roof replacement project essentially.”
Councillor Adamson said:“ I know there’s a huge difference between Deans South and this type of work is completely different, and if history can teach us anything it is that the mistakes made back in 1999 onwards won’t be repeated.
“I just want to make sure that people are being given some kind of comfort and consolation that everything is being explored. I’m a homeowner in an ex local authority house and when Deans South came up I used to think there but for grace if God go I. It could be any one of us.”
She asked for meetings to be held for those homeowners whose homes were affected and for tailored solutions to be offered.
Councillor Adamson said: “ I do believe that the council will have a lot of information. I’m confident that West Lothian is ahead of the game in identifying RAAC I’m just asking that are keeping people informed and in the loop to be able to give information when it becomes available and to help the people who will be looking for answers.”
The survey of council homes identified the following: 9 homes and 1 common block in Linlithgow affected; 24 homes and 13 blocks in Broxburn affected; 34 homes and 1 common block in Bathgate affected; 2 homes in Craigshill, Livingston affected.
The survey only covered council owned properties.
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