Daily Record: Small claims court for Council for overcharging in Statutory Notice Scandal

Announcement Date: 23rd March 2014

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Mum-of-two Tanya has now launched a small claim action against the charge.

She said: “When I looked at the final accounts and saw a charge for water, I couldn’t believe it.

“I’ve asked the council why this has been added to the bill and they have ignored my questions.

“I’ve had no choice but to take them to the small claims court to get my money back.

“Two independent surveyors have calculated the costs for the water and it works out at £4.17 a pint. I’d like to know where they get their water pumped from – a Highland spring?

“There is no reason why we’ve been charged an extortionate amount for water. I’m told builders pay an annual water charge so the addition is bizarre.”

Tanya, who lives in a block of eight flats in Goldenacre Terrace in the city centre, was charged by the council’s property conservation department.

Edinburgh’s unique statutory repairs system, which allowed the council to carry out repairs on private properties, has been scrapped following a probe into claims of mismanagement, unnecessary and substandard works and inflated bills.

Although no criminal charges were brought in the property conservation department, charges of corruption, fraud, perverting the course of justice and profiting from crime were brought against 11 people in a separate property care department which dealt with public buildings, including community centres and libraries.

Tanya and her seven neighbours were originally quoted £3000 for the repairs to their property but the bill spiralled to £42,000.

They paid the bill in full but did not realise a charge for water had been added to the tally. They were later hit with a second statutory repairs bill for £85,000.

But when she asked for a breakdown of the bill, a large chunk of it had been blacked out by the council.

She said: “It’s ridiculous. In what other situation would you expect to pay a bill if you couldn’t see what you’re paying for?

“We’re refusing to pay and now we’re getting final warnings. This whole statutory notice system has been highly suspicious.”

Gordon Murdie, one of two independent surveyors who calculated the water costs, said: “My simple question is how and why is this acceptable? To date, the council have failed to correct their error, offer an apology or process a refund.

“What else is there to hide? A public inquiry is required – and soon.”

A council spokesman said: “The council have a clear and robust programme in place to close off the issues relating to the former property conservation service.”

To link to the Daily Record article, click here.