Edinburgh property repairs: No criminal charges after probe

Investigations started after claims of corruption involving officials handling property repairs

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No-one involved with Edinburgh's property repairs controversy will face criminal charges, BBC Scotland has learned.

Lothian and Borders Police had been investigating allegations of fraud and corruption in Edinburgh City Council's property conservation department.

Hundreds of residents have complained of over-charging and poor workmanship.

A total of 15 people have also been charged in a separate inquiry into the council's property repairs department.

However, in the initial property conservation department investigation it has now emerged police found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing.

So far 11 employees across the property service have been dismissed and six are suspended pending disciplinary action by Edinburgh City Council.

Disciplinary inquiry

Earlier this week the director of city development, Dave Anderson, resigned before a disciplinary inquiry into his management of the department was completed.

The local authority uses statutory notices to ensure essential repairs are carried out on its historic tenements.

Under the system, the council can intervene to organise repair work on private properties when the owners of shared buildings cannot reach agreement.

However, Edinburgh City Council is up to £40m out of pocket due to the problems in the department.

Detectives were also called in to investigate claims of fraud, bribery and corruption.

However, the case has now been dropped after a report passed to the Crown Office recommended that no further action was to be taken.

Former Edinburgh City Council leader Ewan Aitken has condemned the decision as "unbelievable", but residents said their main focus was on trying to recover costs from the council and get work completed to an "acceptable" standard.

'Flood gates'

A Crown Office spokesman said: "There will be no criminal charges in respect of allegations of fraud involving the property conservation department of the council.

"However, we would like to make it clear that investigations are ongoing in relation to allegations of criminality concerning the property care services department of the City of Edinburgh Council.

"Once these allegations are completed, a decision will be taken on whether or not proceedings should be raised."

Aline McMillan Aline McMillan, a Shandon resident affected by the repairs controversy said she was in shock

Gordon Murdie, of Quantus quantity surveyors, who has more than 200 clients who have been affected by the property repairs controversy, said: "This decision has opened the flood gates.

"We will be pursuing the council to force them, enable them and assist them to do what they ought to have been doing for many years now, which is to resolve the people's cases.

"The cost to Edinburgh is almost immeasurable, it will certainly be more than £200m."

Mr Aitken said: "I'm shocked and deeply saddened. A huge injustice has been perpetrated not just on the owners but on the people of Edinburgh.

"I personally have seen evidence of substandard materials being overcharged for, of collusion over changing rates during the tendering process and businesses getting tenders they should not have got because they were outside the procured process.

"This is outrageous and I would call on the the council to reopen that investigation."

Aline McMillan, a Shandon resident affected by the repairs controversy, said she had worked hard all her life to look after her home and it was left in a "state".

"Nobody cares. I've got to prove that this was the council," she said.

"I've got a whole box of paperwork and photos before and after but I would just like somebody to listen.

"There are people older than me who must be really, really depressed because living in the dark is bad enough but having nobody listening to you is shocking."

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