What is this all about ?
This is the story of a ground floor flat in a "Four in a Block" property in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire. It is about Jeanette Knox's attempts to get the house she owned repaired under an order from the local council. Meanwhile a younger relative with special needs continues to live in a flat deemed unfit for human habitation.
After Jeanette's health problems, her campaign was taken up by her sister Nancy Smith who lives in Barrhill.
The story [or Timeline] is as follows:
In 1995 Jeanette Knox contacted Renfrewshire Council's Environmental Services, about the ingress of water into the gable wall of her house, as the other owners would not agree to pay their share of the common repairs needed to prevent the ingress of water.
Jeanette had obtained a quotation for some £3,600, but some of the other owners refused to agree to pay their share of this - a mere £900 - and get the work done privately.
Jeannette approached the Council, who inspected the dampness in her house: they then served a Section 87 Notice on all four owners in the building. The council took ownership of the Notice and obtained their own quotation of £5,113 which was some £1,500 more than that provided by Jeanette.
The Council contracted the work out to Billy Duffy and his firm Tower Conversions (Paisley) Ltd.
In 1996-97 the contractor reported that the works were complete. An Invoice for £9,965.92, nearly double the quotation, was submitted for work done. The contractor also provided a guarantee dated 07 Feb 97.
In 1998 Jeanette reported to the council that water was still coming into her house. Jeanette deferred payment of her share of the invoice for the works on the grounds that the works had not been executed satisfactorily, as the ingress of water was spreading.
On 15th January 1998 the council's Environmental Health reported dampness, slates off the roof, and beading off the gable.
Disagreements ensued between the council's Environmental Health and Property Services departments as to the cause of the water ingress until 2003, when Property Services sent out a letter to all the residents saying that the cause of the water ingress was due to CONDENSATION AND LACK OF INSULATION !!
This is not reflected the council's building survey report of 2010, or the lawyer acting for the family, Livingstone Brown's Cass Survey report in 2012.
2008: Rain water floods down the gable wall affecting the flat upstairs as well as Jeanette's. The owner of the upper flat inspected the roof and phoned me, Jeanette's sister, enquiring who did the roof repair work as the foam infill had disintegrated due to lack if being cement sealed and lack of sufficent overhang of slates. I contacted Environmental Health who reportted the neglect on returning to the council.This according to Trading Standards should have been repaired by the council, as it was reported within the five year times scale of their final letter.
Instead of completing the abandoned roof work, the council served residents Section 80 to get the same work done , as was cited in Section 87, which they had previously charged the residents for in 1996.
Even although Environmental Health's report of 13/11/08 states they neglected the work, the council are accepting no liability for their neglect. This is very unjust.
Jeanette had a serious stroke, which rendered her unable to continue with her quest to get the water ingress in her house abated. She was hospitalised and is now living in a care home. Her nephew Stephen, who lived with her, as she was his carer, is still living in this house which the council deemed uninhabitable 2013. The council offered him alternative accommodation, which he refused, as he doe not want to leave the house he has lived in for years. This is NOT about rehousing Stephen, it is about the council's neglect to comply with Section 87 which they said they had done, even although the Environmental Health, building surveyors, lawyers, and even the building itself bears witness to.
Nancy Smith's runabout since 2008
Nancy has tried to get justice from the council for her sister. She has approached many agencies, including:
- Citizens Advice
- Trading Standards
- Council's lawyer and various departments within the council
- Various Lawyers such as Livingstone Brown
- SPSO, who recommended Jon Kiddieand ICO, to no avail.
- Councillors Neil Bibby and Chris Gilmour
- MSP's Douglas Alexander and Hugh Henry
These are some of the people and authorities who have been have asked to assist Nancy in her quest for justice whilst the Council who kept passing the buck until their liability became time barred. The council state that all the people originally dealing with the case are no longer working in the council, and are refusing to communicate with Nancy Smith any more !
And now in 2014
As the building continues to deteriorate as forecast by Environmental Health and communicated to Property Services in a letter of 22nd February 1998 if repair works were not completed, residents are are still being hassled by the council for their attempts to stop the ingress of water and deterioration to the fabric of their building.