Council ordered £164k of invalid work on OAP’s home

AN elderly resident caught up in the Capital’s statutory repairs scandal has told of his torment after the city council took more than four years to write off nearly £164,000 worth of invalid work on his home.

Bruce Thompson of Comely Bank Place. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Bruce Thompson said he was “devastated” to discover jobs valued at more than £250,000 were carried out at his property and those belonging to neighbours in Comely Bank Place – almost four times the original contract amount of £66,000.

Today, it emerged the increased sum – for repairs completed after residents at 7, 9 and 11 Comely Bank Place sought assistance for a leak in their communal stair – was caused by incorrectly-issued emergency notices which the city council’s own auditors said should not be pursued.

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The Evening News has also learned cracks have since appeared in the repair work, with fears now growing that it may have to be re-done.

Cracks have already appeared after the statutory repairs work. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Mr Thompson, now 70, said he was forced to wage a four-year battle with city leaders before they eventually backed down and cut the bill from £251,000 to £87,000.

He said the struggle had taken a huge emotional and mental toll, and revealed he would be pursuing a legal claim for stress and damages.

“I have spent over four years fighting with City of Edinburgh Council over these repairs,” he said.

“Despite my telling them in February 2011 that the five emergency notices were wrongly served, it took until September of 2014 for them to admit this. I considered retiring at 65, but how could I with a potential personal bill of £26,000 hanging over me?

“This was no longer an option, nor could I do any financial planning for the future which was now unknown and financially quite perilous.”

The development comes as debt write-offs following the suspension of the city’s former property conservation department continue to soar.

Recent council figures revealed more than £6 million of £22m in unbilled work had been declared irrecoverable.

Mr Thompson said the ordeal began in late 2009, when it became clear that repair work – initially scheduled for completion within 14 weeks – was taking much longer than expected.

“The council failed to keep me informed of developments,” he said. “The council told me that there were emergency situations on my roof and that they had fixed them. I trusted the council and I thought I was in safe hands.”

City bosses said clearing the backlog of unbilled work was a complicated process but insisted they were making good progress.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, finance leader, said: “The independent case review process carried out by [auditors] Deloitte finished earlier this year. We have received their recommendations and significant progress has been made in issuing new bills for some extremely complex projects.”