Torry RAAC residents tell of 'severe distress' in protest outside Aberdeen council HQ

Residents demanded answers to their situation outside Marischal College
-Credit: (Image: Kirstie Topp/LDRS)


Frustrated Torry residents living in RAAC-affected homes have told councillors that the ongoing crisis is causing the community “severe distress”.

They say the local authority’s “insufficient” housing stock has left tenants refusing offers of alternative accommodation.

Meanwhile, residents are also worried about potentially moving from three-bedroom homes to flats with “drug users on one floor and alcoholics in another.”

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This comes as council officers revealed they intend to get all those impacted by the worrying material moved out by the end of the year.

An update on the current RAAC situation was given to councillors earlier today. But Torry residents Paula Fraser and Lynn Winstanley spoke at the meeting to share their concerns, and those of their neighbours.

They said they were “saddened and tired” of hearing that tenants were being offered properties that don’t meet their needs. The duo claimed that the council were not thinking about people’s current circumstances.

Paula revealed: “People don’t want to move from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom flat when we’ve got gardens, dogs, this and that. I’m a grandparent, I’ve got my grandson who lives with me. You move me into a one bedroom flat, where is he going to sleep?

“All the housing team is seeing is one person living in a three-bedroom house and nothing else has been taken into consideration. People might have night carers or family staying overnight, so where do they stay?”

Council co-leader Christian Allard asked the pair what they thought the council should do to address the rehousing problem. He said: “We know we have a lot of accommodation in Torry but people don’t want to take them because they are not suitable. The expectation is very high but there are many houses all across Aberdeen empty for people to go into.”

An angry Lynn fired back, and asked why Torry residents should have to settle for second best. “We do understand the housing stock is fairly short but at the end of the day for these residents, it’s not their fault they’re in this situation,” she replied.

“They’ve spent years making a home, putting in kitchens, bathrooms, gardens, and they are being asked to leave all that behind, go somewhere they don’t know. Why should they lower their expectations?”

While Paula raised the point that some tenants feared moving to a flat that may have troublesome neighbours. She explained: “People don’t want to move from a house into a flat where they’ve got noise upstairs, downstairs, drug users on one floor and alcoholics in another.

“I know there’s plenty one and two-bedroom flats but families don’t want that. They are not looking for a two-bedroom middle floor flat with someone that plays music all the time upstairs.”

The bubbly concrete, described as being similar in appearance to a bar of Aero chocolate, has been found in 366 council homes and 130 private properties.

Since the crisis began three months ago, Aberdeen City Council has issued 293 offers of alternative accommodation, and 26 through registered social landlords. However, just 70 leases have been signed and only 30 households have been rehomed.

The council is aware that a large number of offers have been refused due to them being in different areas or unsuitable sizes.

Community empowerment boss Jacqui McKenzie explained: “There are challenges around people being unwilling to move. They want to have something comparable with what they’ve got now and that is challenging for us in terms of our availability.”

Paula and Lynn also asked the council to provide more support to residents, some of whom have taken time off work due to stress and anxiety over the crisis. They warned that without any immediate support, there could be a “serious mental health crisis in the community”.

Ms McKenzie told the chamber that mental health and wellbeing information is readily available on the local authority’s website. But, steps are being taken to organise a drop-in session to be hosted by the Health and Social Care Partnership.

The officer explained: “This would be a safe place that people can share their feelings, put forward questions and maybe just explore and understand what additional support is available that they might not be aware of.”

Meanwhile, the council is engaging with Red Cross. The charity has offered to provide emotional support both in-person and online, and can be accessed through its crisis line.

Talks are also ongoing to potentially offer an extra pair of hands for those who need some help with moving.