Residents feeling 'pure rage' over RAAC relocation

protesters
A protest was held ahead of an Aberdeen City Council housing committee meeting [BBC]

Residents in Aberdeen having to leave their homes due to potentially dangerous concrete have said frustration over the council’s handling of the situation has turned to "pure rage".

It has been three months since reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was identified in about 500 properties in the city's Balnagask area.

Some tenants have told BBC Scotland News the council has changed relocation conditions by telling them they can choose either their preferred area or property type, but not both.

Aberdeen City Council said it aimed to complete all rehoming by the end of the year.

A protest was held ahead of an Aberdeen City Council housing committee meeting, where councillors were receiving updates on the situation.

There were heated scenes outside as residents affected by RAAC confronted the council's co-leader Christian Allard.

“You wouldn’t live in it, and you wouldn’t have your family live in it," one woman told him.

Mr Allard told BBC Scotland News: "We've had hundreds and hundreds of meetings with tenants and with owner occupiers, we will keep doing this until the issue is resolved, but that's going to take months, we know it's going to take months, and that's going to be very difficult."

Homes in Aberdeen's Balnagask area
The concrete was found in homes in Aberdeen's Balnagask area [BBC]

Private homeowners are also concerned over what they said was a lack of support and communication.

There are also concerns that some residents who have already moved are still waiting for relocation and associated payments.

Lynn Winstanley runs an online RAAC support group for residents, and is herself a private owner.

"It’s pure rage," she said. "Everybody has got over the shock of what is happening, and people are getting angry now. The council are just not keeping them updated.

"People were willing to bend over backwards and move, but they’re not going to be bullied into moving somewhere where they do not want to live."

Ms Winstanley added: "Most people have been offered horrendous tenancies, in areas that they’ve chosen, but not properties that they require.

"For example, someone from a four-bedroom house getting offered a top-floor flat - it's just not feasible for them.

"They have now been told by the council that they have to either pick an area or pick a property type."

Erica Mitchell
Erica Mitchell said she was disappointed with her offer [BBC]

Council tenant Erica Mitchell currently lives in a one-bedroom ground-floor flat in Balnagask.

She said she had asked for a similar property, but was disappointed with the offer, and turned it down.

"I said I'd like a property with my own front door and a wee bit of garden," she said.

"I took a drive over, and when I went there it was nothing like what I’d asked for - it was a top floor flat with no garden space.

"The housing officers have been getting back in touch with tenants, who are being offered either property type or area.

"For me that’s not something that’s easy to make a decision about."

'Soul-destroying'

Ms Mitchell explained: "I thought how on earth am I supposed to choose area or property? It feels like we’re back at square one.

"We were getting mixed information about things in the beginning, and it feels like we're getting mixed information once again."

She said hearing she had to leave her home had felt "soul-destroying" and said it was having a huge impact on the mental health of those affected.

"The longer this situation drags on, I can see people saying 'I'm not moving'. I can honestly see that happening."

Violet Innes
Violet Innes said she was awaiting relocation costs [BBC]

Violet Innes moved into her new home in a different part of the city in the middle of April.

Ms Innes said she loved her new property but, six weeks on, was still waiting to receive more than £2,000 in relocation and associated costs from the council.

"I don’t think they’ve got any idea what they’re doing," she claimed. "It's supposed to be two to three weeks after but I’m still waiting.

"I’m struggling, I’m behind with my bills, and I’ve had to ask my niece and son for money for shopping.

"I’m so angry. That's not just me, other people have had to wait.

"There's no contact with the finance team, having to email every other day. I’m frustrated."

She added: "I’ve heard a few people saying 'I'm sick of this, I'm not moving'."

Aberdeen City Council said it was continuing to to engage with all parties.

Anyone concerned about RAAC has also been asked to read the local authority’s Frequently Asked Questions online.

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