'I'm stuck in a dumping ground till next spring'

THE family of a frail pensioner say she has been abandoned in a "dumping ground" estate due for demolition – and has been told she will be stuck there until next spring.

Ina Stobie, 90, is one of the last remaining residents in the run-down Moredun sheltered housing complex while she waits to be rehoused.

The other seven properties in her street have long since been boarded up, and there is even a hastily-erected sign to let postmen know that there is someone still living there.

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Most of the former residents of the 48-property Moredun Dykes Road facility have either passed away or moved, leaving the estate to fall into disrepair and become a target for vandals.

Mrs Stobie remains because she is waiting to be moved into a new sheltered-housing project which was due to be completed last year but will not now be ready until 2011.

She said: "I really need the security of sheltered housing, so I can't go anywhere else.

"People have come to steal the fences and the paving slabs, and you don't want to challenge them and you don't want that happening in the area."

Louise Coutts, one of Mrs Stobie's 11 grandchildren, today said her family now feared for her safety.

Ms Coutts, who lives in Southampton, said: "Over the years it has just got worse and worse.

"She's virtually on her own there, no neighbours, with kids running across her rooftops at night and people using the estate as a dumping ground."

Across the road from the estate, where Mrs Stobie has lived for more than a decade, is the construction site for the new sheltered housing scheme. The finish date has been continually put back, with the city council currently expecting it will be ready next March.

In the meantime, many residents have left to move into new flats with no warden support, but at Mrs Stobie's age, that is not an option.

Broken bottles and discarded waste litter the paths which wind up to the homes of her former neighbours. Most are now covered in metal boards to stop people breaking in, while the gardens have become overgrown.

Ms Coutts added: "It's not acceptable to leave a woman of that age in that environment. We've invited her to come down here, but she is Edinburgh born and bred and doesn't want to leave her community.

"With the winter in between now and moving into the new accommodation it is very worrying."

The reason for the delay to the new sheltered housing complex is unclear but the city council insisted maintenance and support was continuing for those left in the old estate.

A spokesman said: "Unfortunately as residents move out we have a duty to secure the empty homes, which doesn't always look pleasing to the eye, but we will ensure the maintenance for the garden areas continues to be carried out."