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Pitlochry great-grandad fears for family in mouldy council house

Norman Hawkes says the mould covering his council home shows there's a side to Pitlochry that visitors don't see

Norman Hawkes standing outside his Pitlochry home
Norman Hawkes says his Pitlochry council house is riddled with mould. Image: Marieke McBean.

A Pitlochry great-grandad says the mould in his council house is so bad he fears for his family when they visit.

Norman Hawkes says he and wife Cathy are sick of dealing with the mould which creeps around their windows, inside cupboards and all over their possessions.

And he claims the couple feel abandoned to “the side of Pitlochry the tourists don’t see”.

The retired railway signalman has been begging Perth and Kinross Council to tackle the damp in their Kennedy Place home – and to maintain the buildings and street outside – for months.

And he says the problems are so bad he is worried about what they’re doing to his family’s health.

Norman Hawkes, who is complaining about mould in his council house, holding a pair of leather shoes covered in mould.
Mould on Norman Hawkes’s shoes. Image: Marieke McBean

“Our great-grandson was born in October,” he said.

“We’re grandparents too.

“The children are breathing in that atmosphere when they come to see us. What’s that doing to them?

“You read about things like that boy who died because of mould in his house and you worry.”

Mr Hawkes was referring to the case of Rochdale toddler Awaab Ishak, who died shortly after his second birthday in 2020.

A coroner ruled his death was caused by “extensive” mould in his family’s rented Rochdale flat.

Still no solution to damp

Perth and Kinross Council says it has been working to come up with a solution.

The authority is hopeful it can start some external works in the spring.

Norman Hawkes standing next to a wall with exposed brickwork in Kennedy Place, Pitlochry
Norman says the whole area is in need of repair. Image: Marieke McBean.

But a number of the flats in the block where the Hawkes stay are now in private hands.

And it will have to get the majority of owners to agree before any major repairs can go ahead.

Norman says he and Cathy have been visited by a series of council representatives, including service heads and their local councillor, Perth and Kinross provost Xander McDade.

But he says none of the suggested remedies have helped.

And he’s growing weary of them ever finding a solution.

“They’ve tried to tell us it’s condensation,” he said.

“It’s not condensation, it’s mould.

The interior of a cupboard in Norman Hawkes' council house with circular marks where glasses have been standing in mould.
Dealing with damp cupboards is a full time job in this Pitlochry council house. Image: Norman Hawkes.

“It’s coming from outside and it’s the building that needs attention.

“We’re banging our heads off a brick wall here.”

Council ‘understands’ about mould in house

A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the situation and completely understand the concerns of our tenant.

“We are actively working to resolve this issue and have been for some time.

“We have been in regular contact with our tenant to provide him with advice and support to tackle household condensation mould, and to update him about wider building improvements we want to carry out which we hope will have a positive impact.

The spokesperson went on: “As the block of flats is in mixed occupancy, legally we need majority agreement from private owners before any major repairs work can go ahead, including agreement that they will pay their share of these costs.”

Door in poor condition with peeling paintwork and rotting wood.
The door to the Hawkes’ block of flats in Pitlochry’s Kennedy Place. Image: Marieke McBean.

The council says it has implemented the Tenement Management Scheme (TMS) for the block.

That’s the process that sets out the legal procedure for coming to decisions in buildings under shared ownership.

The Housing Repairs Service is looking to progress a list of works that are required, including to the roof, rhones and downpipes and render.

The spokesperson added: “They are also exploring the possibility of installing cavity wall insulation if agreement with the private owners is reached.

“On the successful completion of the TMS and the majority agreement from owners, it is anticipated this work will go ahead in Spring 2024.

“In the meantime, we plan to carry out work to treat the mould in our tenant’s flat as soon as possible and continue to provide further support and assistance.”