Con­cern grows over safety and con­di­tions at new flats

The Oban Times - - Lochaber Times - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­times.co.uk

CON­CERNS have been raised over safety and con­di­tions at the new £2.9m Tweed­dale flats de­vel­op­ment on Fort Wil­liam High Street.

Prob­lems were high­lighted to the Lochaber Times fol­low­ing a fire at a block of the flats last Thurs­day.

At 5.15am on Thurs­day June 22, a fire broke out in the block of flats num­bers one to 10.

Res­i­dent Jac­que­lynn Duncanson told the Lochaber Times: ‘It’s sum­mer and when you wake up you don’t re­ally know what time it is, so I thought it was the post­man. But it was a neigh­bour knock­ing at the door shout­ing for ev­ery­one to get out be­cause there was a fire.

‘The hall was filled with smoke and it smelt toxic, like burn­ing plas­tic. We all went out onto the Pa­rade. The po­lice came very quickly and evac­u­ated ev­ery­one.’

A spokesman for Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue said two ap­pli­ances were sent to the scene.

‘Crews wear­ing pro­tec­tive breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus en­tered the premises and used a high-pow­ered hose to ex­tin­guish the flames. There were no ca­su­al­ties and fire­fight­ers left af­ter en­sur­ing the area was safe.’

An elec­tri­cal fault with a kitchen ap­pli­ance, be­lieved to be a fridge, in one of the flats caused the fire.

‘We got back in about 7.30am, but the fire alarm was still go­ing off. The po­lice called the coun­cil around 6.15am to ask if some­one could come and switch it off, but it was still go­ing at 8.30am,’ con­tin­ued Jac­que­lynn.

‘I called the coun­cil and told them but they said they wouldn’t be able to turn it off be­fore 9am be­cause that’s when ev­ery­one started work. It was ter­ri­ble.’

The High­land Coun­cil has said no dam­age was caused to any of the flats. Speak­ing to the Lochaber

Times, Jac­que­lynn raised other prob­lems with the flats.

The 62-year- old, who has arthri­tis in her spine, said the se­cure en­trance to the build­ing does not close prop­erly, mean­ing she has had to chase peo­ple loi­ter­ing in the hall­way.

She said: ‘It’s sup­posed to be a se­cure en­trance, but since we have moved in the door will not shut be­hind peo­ple. You have to pull it closed and a lot of peo­ple don’t be­cause they for­get.

‘So now we have peo­ple loi­ter­ing in the halls, drink­ing, smok­ing and shout­ing. The car­pet is cov­ered in cig­a­rette butts and empty cans.

‘I keep ask­ing the young­sters to get out be­cause they are go­ing in and play­ing on the lift. I had to chase one man out of the hall who had a sleep­ing bag and a ruck sack.’

Jac­que­lynn said she has re­ported the prob­lem with the door to the coun­cil 20 times but ‘noth­ing is be­ing done’.

She added: ‘We moved in on May 5. These are new flats and our homes. You don’t want to have to come home to that ev­ery­day. It’s dis­grace­ful.

‘The doors to the other two blocks shut cor­rectly. The coun­cil said it’s be­cause the hy­draulics on our door aren’t heavy enough, but it’s not ac­cept­able. Why have we been given a sub­stan­dard door?’

She also high­lighted is­sues with the lift: ‘The coun­cil said the lift would be out of ac­tion for a week while BT fit­ted the fi­bre ca­bles down the shaft. But it was off for four weeks. There are peo­ple liv­ing in the flats who rely on the lift be­cause they are el­derly or have health prob­lems.

‘The coun­cil bla­tantly lied about how long the lift would be out of use.’

A High­land Coun­cil spokesper­son said: ‘New door closers have been or­dered and are ex­pected to ar­rive and be fit­ted later this week. The lift is run­ning and has been for the last week. The lift was not faulty, how­ever, its use was not per­mit­ted un­til it could be com­mis­sioned by an in­de­pen­dent third party.

‘It is High­land Coun­cil’s process to have lifts, once fit­ted by the con­trac­tor and checked by the coun­cil, ex­am­ined by a third party as an ad­di­tional safety mea­sure.’

Pho­to­graph: Abright­side Pho­tog­ra­phy. F26 tweedale flats 01 JP

Jac­que­lynn Duncanson at the en­trance to her block of flats.

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