Chal­lenge to our for­got­ten homes

Ayrshire Post - - NEWS -

Three lit­tle girls lark hap­pily in a muddy pool, obliv­i­ous they’re mak­ing a right mess of their clothes, writes Stephen Hous­ton.

Around them are four- feet high weeds and smashed up wooden plinths that used to be smart - look­ing seat­ing ar­eas.

There’s in­grained rub­bish ev­ery­where. This is 2017 and this is deep within the vast Dalmilling es­tate in Ayr.

Gung- ho lo­cal Tory coun­cil­lor Ian Davis said: “This place screams ne­glect wher­ever you look.

“It looks as if it has been left to de­grade, cast aside by the coun­cil. And it is not right. Th­ese are the for­got­ten lands of this coun­cil.”

We are in the back courts of the Oakwood Av­enue flats and some of the de­cent ten­ants are de­spair­ing.

Al­lison Kri­isa, 33, has lived here for 14 years, ever since the coun­cil last did a ma­jor over­haul of the flats. The mum- of- one is among the few “orig­i­nal” ten­ants since the re­fur­bish­ment to re­main.

She said: “I used to have flow­ers out the back. But ev­ery­thing gets messed up.

“I am on my 17th whirly- gig in 14 years as the kids keep break­ing them. And no­body ever puts wash­ing out on lines be­cause the chil­dren will cut them down.”

She laments the break­down of the com­mu­nity, where once she would sit out the back with her baby daugh­ter in the splen­did sur­round­ings.

Her own patch of gar­den is filled with weeds as she can­not hold a spade or strim­mer be­cause of carpal tun­nel surgery. She said: “There is no sense of com­mu­nity in th­ese flats any more.

“The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple around here are good and I have been brought up in so- called de­prived ar­eas all my life. I had a bril­liant child­hood in Lochside.

“I have asked the coun­cil to help me with my gar­den, wrote sev­eral times, and they won’t do any­thing. “It is all a right mess.” Closes are a mess, se­cu­rity doors can be ac­cessed and win­dows on the com­mu­nal stairs are wide open.

A sweet stench of cannabis em­anates from some of them. Coun­cil­lor Davis is on a cru­sade to make things bet­ter.

He is a coun­cil ten­ant him­self, in a four- in- a- block in Heath­field.

He asks: “Would the coun­cil­lors them­selves be happy to live in th­ese con­di­tions?

“I don’t think coun­cil­lors or th­ese ten­ants should have to.

“Places like this feel for­got­ten and aban­doned.

“I have re­ported the house­hold rub­bish piled up in Oakwood gar­dens and noth­ing has been done. If a coun­cil­lor can­not achieve this, then a ten­ant cer­tainly can­not.”

Dalmilling has a pop­u­la­tion of 2700 and most of the re­main­ing coun­cil prop­er­ties are fine.

The coun­cil­lor reck­ons it is the com­mu­nal flats across Ayr where there are prob­lems.

He said: “If peo­ple pay the rent then ev­ery­one should ex­pect the same ser­vice.

“Oakwood is not the only place where there is such a prob­lem. North and South Wal­lace­toun, Rus­sell Drive, Strathayr Place and off John Street.

“No­body wants to say th­ese places are for­got­ten. But I think they have been.”

As we left via West­wood Av­enue, a sign of some hope.

A soli­tary hi- vis- vested coun­cil em­ployee was in the street with his lit­ter- picker, en­sur­ing ev­ery small piece was lifted.

David Burns, head of South Ayr­shire Coun­cil hous­ing, takes con­cerns se­ri­ously.

He said: “We will al­ways work with our ten­ants to tackle any is­sues and en­sure they feel sup­ported and lis­tened to.

“Fol­low­ing a com­plaint, a hous­ing of­fi­cer vis­ited Oakwood Av­enue and has ar­ranged for a num­ber of bulky waste items to be re­moved as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“A care­taker ser­vice al­ready op­er­ates in the area, com­mu­nal ar­eas are cleaned and staff re­move lit­ter on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“In con­junc­tion with res­i­dents, the coun­cil have also pre­vi­ously un­der­taken clean- up days, re­mov­ing large waste items and re­mind­ing ten­ants of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to dis­pose of their waste cor­rectly.”

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