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‘750 villagers will be seriously hacked off if this is swept under the carpet’: Decision looms over Edzell Inglis Court petition

Inglis Court in Edzell. 


....Pic Paul Reid

Remaining residents of Inglis Court in Edzell say they have been left in the dark over the plans for the programme to replace the sheltered housing scheme with 20 new homes. In October 2018 the tenants were promised a "bespoke service" to find them alternative homes in advance of the housing being demolished, but are now facing a second Christmas without having been offered suitable accommodation. Council say their plans remain on track with demolition due to start next year.
Inglis Court in Edzell. ....Pic Paul Reid Remaining residents of Inglis Court in Edzell say they have been left in the dark over the plans for the programme to replace the sheltered housing scheme with 20 new homes. In October 2018 the tenants were promised a "bespoke service" to find them alternative homes in advance of the housing being demolished, but are now facing a second Christmas without having been offered suitable accommodation. Council say their plans remain on track with demolition due to start next year.

Edzell residents will be “seriously hacked off” if councillors brush a 750-signature local petition under the carpet next week.

The warning has come from a community leader who helped gather the signatures in support of the village’s Inglis Court returning to a sheltered housing role.

The complex is earmarked for demolition and the construction of new affordable homes in a £3.5 million Angus Council scheme.

Inveresk Community Council took the lead in the pulling the petition together following a well-attended public meeting at the empty housing in July.

An open-air public protest meeting took place at Inglis Court in July. Pic: Paul Reid.

The petition reads: “We the people and Council Tax payers of Edzell and the surrounding area DEMAND that the future of Inglis Court be reconsidered by Angus Council at a full council meeting with proper debate permitted.

“We want it returned to its designed use: Sheltered Housing with a live-in warden, whether this be run by the council or by a private company. It should NOT be demolished to make way for new housing.”

Under council rules, the size of the petition means it will go before scrutiny and audit committee councillors on Tuesday.

Committee choices

Officials say there are five options available to the scrutiny body.

It can:

  • Note receipt of the petition and take no further action.
  • Determine that appropriate action has already been taken or is planned and no further action is necessary.
  • Request a fuller report from the relevant officer.
  • Undertake a detailed scrutiny review, gather evidence and make recommendations to the relevant committee.
  • Refer the matter to Angus Council where in the view of the committee, its significance requires a debate.

How we reached this point

Inglis Court opened as sheltered housing in 1977. It underwent modernisation in 2012, including installation of a lift and level access showers in all properties.

Re-designated as retirement housing in 2016, the flats then fell out of favour.

By 2018, nearly a third of the properties were vacant.

Inveresk Community Council chairman Gus Leighton delivered the Inglis Court petition to Angus House council HQ. Pic: Gareth Jennings/DCT Media

Critics have accused the council of deliberately running down the complex by moving in unsuitable younger tenants to drive out the last of the elderly residents.

The council has highlighted the need and demand for mainstream social housing in Edzell.

Its 44 council houses in the village were fully occupied last year and there are 215 people on the local housing list.

The redevelopment plan – part funded by the Scottish Government – was agreed by councillors in 2015.

Planned demolition of what are still considered by many to be good homes has been a major bone of contention.

Protestors at the July public meeting.

An Angus developer bid up to £400,000 for the complex and says it will be returned to sheltered-style accommodation. The authority has stressed Inglis Court is not surplus to requirements and therefore not for sale.

‘Misinformation’

A top councillor has already criticised what he said was a “lot of misinformation” circulating around the project.

Council finance spokesman Mark Salmond said the new scheme increases the number of bed spaces on the site from 54 to 64.

He said: “The truth is really very simple.

“We are simply changing properties that no one wants, into highly desirable, affordable family homes that local people desperately want.

“Older people are no longer forced to sell their family homes and find retirement properties because of Self Directed Support. This means that they can be supported to stay safely in their own homes which they greatly prefer.

“If communities like Edzell are to thrive, we must provide family homes, and all this is borne out by the facts.”

The community council position

Inveresk community council chairman Gus Leighton has asked the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to investigate Angus Council’s use of public cash.

He suggests spending £2m to knock down the village housing does not represent value for money.

Mr Leighton said: “If this matter is just swept under the carpet on Tuesday, there are going to be over 750 constituents seriously hacked off with Angus Council’s officers and elected members.

“Our petition signatures were collected in only 10 days and local to Edzell but this is a matter of which all Angus are aware.

“I believe we could have had over 5,000 signatures had we opened it up and taken longer.

“This isn’t just a little local issue.”

The scrutiny and audit committee meeting is on Tuesday at 2pm and can be viewed on the Angus Council Live You Tube channel.

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