Introduction

Edinburgh tenants take their fight for housing rights to Edinburgh City Council

Edinburgh tenants take their fight for housing rights to Edinburgh City Council

Residents of Leith’s famous Banana Flats (Cables Wynd House) are speaking at the City Chambers on Thursday 27th June to make a plea to the Council for lifts they can rely on. The full council meeting will hear a motion brought by Cllr Katrina Faccenda, in response to residents’ longstanding concerns about broken lifts. Many tenants have their own stories of being stuck in the lifts, being late for work or school and, in some cases, being housebound because they are broken.

Residents are calling for this motion to be passed. They are assembling outside Edinburgh City Chambers at 9.45am with their supporters before speaking at the meeting at 10am. You can read Cllr Faccenda’s motion here: https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=6941&x=1.

“Tenants access their flats through galleries on the 2nd, 5th and 8th floors,” says Kirsty Chatwood, of the Cables Wynd Residents Group. “There are lots of families with young children, children with additional support needs such as autism, and people with disabilities and long term health problems who live on the higher floors. Lifts aren’t a luxury: many tenants simply can’t take the stairs, which means reliable lifts is what allows us to enter and leave our homes.”

“I was stuck in the lift – a tenant who pulled the doors apart after hearing the shouting helped me,” said a resident in a recent survey.

“I have claustrophobia and have been stuck in lifts 3 times. I struggle to leave the flat now,” shared a third resident.

The Residents Group, with help from Community Development Workers from Inspiring Leith, have designed and carried out action research with their neighbours in the high-rise, following up the survey after two years so that residents’ experiences from 2022 and 2024 could be compared. The results showed that 58% of residents have had their lives moderately or majorly disrupted by the lifts, and 6.7% of people have been housebound because of the lifts. At time of writing one lift has been out of action for over a month.

Lorraine Barrie, of human rights charity Making Rights Real, said: “These figures are unacceptable. We consider this evidence speaks to a breach of the human right to an adequate standard of housing, as set out in Article 11 the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“Broken lifts trap disabled people in their homes and have an adverse effect on the lives of unpaid carers, parents and children. Failing to maintain an adequate service amounts to indirect discrimination for these groups, in breach of the Equality Act 2010. There is a real risk to life in an emergency at Cables Wynd in their current state.

“Making Rights Real have worked with the Cables Wynd Residents group for the past eighteen months on their human rights to adequate housing. Residents have come together to say enough is enough and demand housing improvements. We strongly support this Motion, and call upon Edinburgh City Council to bring the report back to Committee swiftly so remedial action can be progressed.”

Members of the Cables Wynd Residents group will give a short presentation to the full council meeting today, and others will gather outside the City Chambers at 9.45am. You can view the video the group will present to councillors below.

While group members welcome this motion, they are frustrated that things have had to go this far. “We shouldn’t have to do hours of voluntary work for more than 2 years just to get a basic service like working lifts. We hope that the Council will help us in future by giving us a quick, transparent response when we exercise our right to participate in decisions that affect us. We’re calling for the council to pass this motion and for the financial report to come back urgently, so that residents don’t have to spend more months being deprived of basic services essential to their daily lives.”

Written by Hannah Kitchen Kirby, Link Up Development Worker, Inspiring Leith.