Edinburgh Party flats face fresh crackdown

A NEW crackdown on the Capital’s party flats is set to be launched, as it emerged properties are being let out to groups of up to 20 people.

Officials will investigate if short-term lets aimed at stag and hen parties can be licensed under current laws.

News of the crackdown came as it was claimed that families are being driven out of the city centre by the drunken behaviour of weekend revellers.

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The move follows a warning from fire chiefs today that landlords of party flats were risking disaster by cramming up to 20 revellers into a single property.

One Haymarket flat currently advertised has 20 single beds running from wall to wall, and owners of such flats can make up to £600 per night.

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Among those being plagued by antisocial behaviour is Bruce Borthwick, who lives on Holyrood Mews, across from two party flats.

The retired veterinary surgeon has been forced to call the police on multiple occasions, in one instance to deal with ten naked rugby fans running around the common courtyard.

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He told the Evening News: “We had a riot in the courtyard and the police had to turn up.

“There was example of an elderly homeowner who shared a common stair with a party flat. She woke up and found a couple naked on her fireside. They’d forgotten which flat was theirs and pushed her door open.

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“Families are being forced out of the city because their lives are being made a misery.”

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said it was a problem and backed measures to crack down on the practice. She said: “A rescue becomes very complicated if you’ve got 20 people in a single smoke-filled property – it’s the middle of the night, a lot of alcohol has been taken, it’s littered with 20 beds.”

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In 2011 the Scottish Government changed the law to allow councils to seek Asbos to crack down on party flats but campaigners say only a handful have been handed out because of problems with evidence.

City centre councillor Joanna Mowat, who put forward the motion to the city’s housing committee, said a lack of measures to prevent antisocial behaviour meant the authorities could only act when trouble had started. She added: “We need to review what powers we have, why they’re not being enforced, and once we’ve established that we can go to parliament and say we don’t have sufficient powers.”

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Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi added: “Local constituents have given me very disturbing examples of fights, vomiting and streakers running riot from these party flats.”

He added: “If a small change is needed to legislation then I would be willing to propose this. What matters is that we work together and find a way forward so that the people of Edinburgh can sleep at night.”