Analysis: The statutory notice system was fit for purpose – the people running it were not

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WE ALL know a bit about the scandal – Edinburgh citizens effectively being robbed in their own homes by their own council.

Let us set aside the headline dramas of suspensions, sackings and all the institutional dishonesty or sheer professional incompetence that have brought the city to its financial knees.

The council is in an unholy mess of its own making, and thousands of affected owners have suffered immeasurable emotional and financial stress – and their only mistake was to trust the council.

In a private meeting last December, I was assured the council’s position was one of “transparency” and they had no option other than to hold up their hands, apologise and work openly with all involved to sort the mess out. New computers were apparently on order and a “complaints team” was being formed.

The enormity of the task is clear, but its implementation is very disappointing. It has become an investigation by the council into the council for the council – and not one single project has been “resolved”.

“Transparent” has moved through translucent, then opaque, to totally obscure.

In five years’ time, this calamitous scandal will still be rumbling on – and possibly longer with expected court cases. The public purse will have been drained by more than £200million.

Why is it so difficult to quickly assess the true contract value of necessary work properly executed and let owners get on with their lives? What more is there to hide?

The statutory notice system was fit for purpose – the people running it were apparently not. Many reputable builders and their employees need the work and buildings still need repaired.

Whether the council can be trusted again to be involved remains to be seen.

• Gordon Murdie is managing director of Quantus QS, a quantity surveying firm in Edinburgh.