Word on the street - Latest questions to the council

Newbyres Cresent, Gorebridge. Homes evacuated after high levels of gas found.
Newbyres Cresent, Gorebridge. Homes evacuated after high levels of gas found.

As part of our on-going Word On the Street campaign to get answers for those living on Co2-hit Newbyres Crescent in Gorebridge, here are the replies in full from Midlothian Council to our latest questions.

When will residents find out when and where they will be moving out?

“We are working with each resident on an individual basis to ensure that we provide the best solutions for them. That means at present that we can’t confirm the timescales as that is specific to each household.

“We aim to avoid more than one move for permanent tenancies although temporary arrangements may be required to meet preferred choices. We have a special project team in place, including a public health practitioner form NHS Lothian, working from 12A Gore Avenue, and these staff will support residents over the next few months with housing options and arrangements for residents.”

How much will they be reimbursed for home improvements they have paid for such as new carpets, how will this be calculated?

“This will be discussed on an individual basis with residents, with elected members agreeing last week that the principle we will be following is that no resident should suffer what is known as “demonstrable detriment” as a result of a situation which is not their fault.“

Will moving costs be covered by the council?

“The Council arranges removals with a Council contractor and we can organise for possessions to be packed as well if required. We can supply packing boxes now through the site office.“

Has the council decided yet whether or not to bring forward the planned council homes at the Greenhall School site? And will Newbyres residents get priority to move there?

“We are looking at bringing the Greenhall development forward at present as part of our response to this exceptional circumstance. Again, as this is an exceptional circumstance, people being relocated will be treated as special cases and their applications will not be dealt with under the normal housing allocation policy. This reflects the fact that none of this is the fault of residents, who are not being given a choice about whether or not they leave their current houses.”

With the two options decided upon on Tuesday expected to cost £12 million and £9.3 million, how can the council afford to pay that?

“The Council has already set aside resources as part of its phase 2 new build programme. In addition the Council is taking legal advice as to whether or not any of these costs can be recovered from other parties.”

How do you respond to local MSP Christine Grahame’s outrage that residents discovered the street was to be demolished via a “flippant” message on social media?

“We would like to reassure Christine Grahame, MSP and other readers that the council is talking and communicating with residents of Newbyres Crescent and Gore Avenue in a number of ways, but primarily face to face as that’s the best way for us to provide support. Housing officers have made a large number of personal visits to residents over the last few months and that will continue. In addition, our site office opened last week and a multi-agency team of experts will be based there to provide support to people through this unsettling period as we work with individual tenants to secure new tenancies meeting their needs. Facebook and Twitter is also used as we know social media is popular with residents and others in Midlothian – but social media is never used as the only way of discussing matters with residents. Given the brevity and speed needed on social media, particularly on Twitter with its 140 character limit, it is possible on occasion that people might not feel the tone of the communication is right, and if that has been the case with individual updates, we are grateful for feedback and we’ll learn lessons from that for the future and adjust the tone and language accordingly. In addition we are discussing this ongoing situation frequently with the media, community representatives, political representatives and others to get the facts out and answer as many of the questions we know people have as quickly and as openly as we can.”

If you have any questions regarding the situation at Newbyres Crescent, send them here