Falkirk pensioners in garage rent row

Residents from Millburn Street are not happy with the rise in rates for their garages
Residents from Millburn Street are not happy with the rise in rates for their garages

Pensioners are threatening a strike in protest at what they are being charged for renting a garage space near their homes.

The angry OAPs are facing an 80 per cent hike in their bill to £75 a year and are warning they will not pay unless they get assurances from Falkirk Council about what they can expect to get for their money.

Dozens of neighbours in Millburn Street in Falkirk have signed a petition and determined to hold onto their cash until the town hall delivers its promise to properly maintain the ground around the properties.

Robert McMillan (75) from 29 Millburn Street has had a garage on the site for over 50 years. He said: “The council gave us the land for nothing to start with because it was no use to them. Later we started paying a nominal rent. It was around £10 a year to begin with and usually increased by about £2 a year which was manageable. But now it’s shot up by £33 in one go which is ridiculous, particularly when you look at the atrocious state of the area.

“The ground is full of potholes and desperately needs new tar put down. We were promised lighting, a water supply and proper drainage but are still waiting. The last time workmen put tar down they put the slope in the wrong way so now when it rains the garages are flooded. Given the conditions we are expected to put up with the council has a cheek charging us anything. To say the money we pay goes towards the management and maintenance costs is a joke. As pensioners we live on a fixed income and every penny has to be looked after. An annual bill for £75 might not seem a lot to some people, but it’s a lot for us to find, and when you look at what we are paying we’re getting nothing like value for money.”

Householders in Grange Avenue and Parkfoot Court are also unhappy their garage rents have shot up as a result of the council budget. Housewife Edith Rintoul has complained to her local councillor David Alexander, while Ian Trapp is trying to get an explanation from the housing manager.

Mr Alexander said: “The SNP urged a freeze on garage site rents but was outvoted. We warned 70 per cent increases would be opposed at a time when people on low or moderate incomes are being hammered by a range of new council charges as well as fuel and VAT rises. I have written to housing and social services demanding a reversal ofthis policy.”

A council spokesman said: “Garage and lock up sites are provided as a service and rental received is put back into their long-term maintenance. For many years increases were well below inflation.”