Later this week, the Council will consider two reports concerning the legacy of the city’s discredited statutory repairs system.
The first report outlines work by Deloitte to recover an estimated £22m from homeowners for over 430 repair projects that were completed but not yet billed. Deloitte is managing the recovery process at a cost of £950,000.
The second report concerns the resolution of a remaining 269 projects with a notional value of £4.5m although the Council acknowledges that some projects will not go ahead and that in some cases it will be unable to recover costs from owners.
Over three years have passed since the Council first acknowledged serious concerns with the statutory notice service and conducted an internal review. The system was subsequently subject to detailed investigation by Deloitte and the Police.
For years I have been raising issues on behalf of residents concerned about the quality and cost of statutory notice works. Over the last 18 months significant steps have been taken and the Council is continuing the process of resolving disputes about hundreds of cases. However, there remain a number of outstanding issues and there can be no room for complacency.
It’s vital that on-going complaints are properly considered. I’m aware of residents who are still experiencing problems as a result of works carried out on their properties and a clear plan is now needed to resolve these outstanding cases.
The sums still to be collected by the Council for completed work are significant, with finances tight both for owners and the Council .
While work continues to deal with the legacy of the statutory repairs system, I am also lobbying for improvements to the replacement Shared Repairs Service. Before Christmas I met with councillors and council officials to urge work to continue to develop a replacement enforcement scheme that is transparent for residents and allows the Council to step in to ensures the protection of our built environment. As they consider the design of new services it’s vital that lessons are learned from the painful experiences that residents have been put through in recent years.
I’m also determined people’s experience in Edinburgh is fed into Scottish Parliament discussions on legislation that we will be considering over the coming months.