Falkirk neighbours angry at door system billing

Owner-occupiers are upset at arrangements
Owner-occupiers are upset at arrangements

Homeowners are about to get massive bills for new doors they don’t want.

They face paying £1200 each – despite telling Falkirk Council they didn’t want the controlled entry systems installed.

One owner-occupier found a contractor prepared to do the work for half that, but the local authority said it wasn’t to its standard.

The council’s plans to improve 11 blocks of flats and maisonettes in Camelon and Bantaskine were revealed to owner-occupiers in July 2010, part of efforts to meet the government’s Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015.

One of those facing a bill said the authority selected blocks where it was the majority property owner.

She said: “There are eight flats in our block and only three of them have owner/occupiers, the rest are council tenants. The three of us aren’t against it in principle, but we couldn’t understand why our block was selected as security isn’t an issue.”

That first letter contained no prices, but homeowners later learned the work would cost over £10,000 per block, leaving them each facing a bill of £1325 plus VAT along with a £50 admin fee. Since then there has been a small drop in the cost although they will not find out the final charge till later this month.

In March last year, Falkirk Council gave the £164,000 contract to CCG (Scotland) Ltd of Glasgow. It will fit entry systems in blocks in Abercrombie Street, Fleming Gardens, Gordon Place, Irving Court, Simpson Street, Sunnyside Street, Telford Square and Wall Gardens in Camelon, along with Derwent Avenue, Gilchrist Drive and Summerford Road, Bantaskine.

One woman said: “I’ve a file of correspondence between myself and the council but still don’t know what I’ve to pay. The procedure has been very badly handled – who would sign up for something when they don’t know what it’s going to cost?

“They carried out the work last summer and the job has been signed off. The lights haven’t been fitted, yet I’m supposed to pay.”

Councillor Georgie Thomson, who represents Falkirk South for the SNP, said she had been contacted by a number of owner/occupiers over the “outrageous” costs.

She said: “Owner-occupiers have not received a copy of the ‘Common Repair, Common Sense’ booklet, which highlights the timescale of their right of appeal. I understand owner-occupiers have the right to submit three independent estimates for the work to be carried out, which has also been denied them by Falkirk Council. Clearly, there is something far wrong with the estimates issued to owner-occupiers. In some cases, when they compare independent estimates with Falkirk Council’s, they believe they are paying for the whole block of flats.”

A council spokesman said initial letters were sent out before costs were known and maintained booklets were enclosed.

He added: “We would always attempt to find a working solution to any difficulties households have in making payments and while we can take legal action this would be an absolute last resort.

“Invoices for the work will be issued in the next few weeks and we will be informing residents of the amount prior to this. The quote provided by the resident did not meet the standard we expect from contractors.”