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Mum claims Dingwall flat is not safe for her

By Donna MacAllister

Kim MacDonald
Kim MacDonald

A MUM-OF-two has stepped up her fight to be rehoused from what she calls a "damp-ridden hovel" after being taken to hospital for surgery to remove a cyst bigger than a tennis ball.

Kim MacDonald is ramping up efforts for a flit after her medical reverse last week.

The 35-year-old barmaid is battling with Albyn Housing Society over living conditions described by her local councillor in Dingwall as "horrendous".

The housing group, which is assessing the damage and making repairs, says it has taken steps to remedy the situation and provided clear advice. There is no suggestion that the conditions in the apartment caused her medical issues but she says she's so concerned about the potential impact of picking up an infection that she's staying with friends away from her family meantime.

While it has come in for flack from a number of tenants over claims of damp, the housing group _ whose chief executive has written a column on the issue in today's North Star –insists its homes are built to a high standard and most of the problems it has investigated are caused by condensation, which can be tackled.

Ms MacDonald wants a shift from the Dingwall property without further and has invited Albyn to make contact with her GP and hospital care team.

She said: "Here I am, away from my family. I can't spend time with the kids and be with my partner unless we get somewhere else to stay. I've been told I can't work for four weeks."

She said the medical panic struck without warning on Wednesday last week.

"I started getting pains," she said. "At first I thought nothing of it. Then I started to vomit. They thought it was appendicitis but when they looked it was a cyst measuring 13cms by 8cms by 10cms, too big for keyhole so I've had to have full surgery and I didn't get out of hospital until Monday. It gave me a proper fright."

Dingwall and Seaforth councillor Margaret Paterson said: "I've been working with Kim for a while now. The damp is not acceptable...it's horrendous and people shouldn't have to live in that condition. I have actually seen mould growing in the mattress in the daughters' bedroom."

Ms MacDonald claims the damp issue is so severe she has had to abandon her bedroom and sleep in the living room with her partner Alan Young on two sofas shoved together.

She said her daughters aged 15 and 13 also stay there.

And she claims water drips down their blackened bedroom walls.

Albyn Housing Society said it couldn't comment on individual's health issues.

Albyn's chief executive Colin Macauley did not comment on Ms MacDonald's claims.

He said: "Last week we met with Ms MacDonald in her home, who was also joined by Cllr Paterson. We completed dampness checks to the external walls and flooring, again. These found that the moisture is not coming from an external source. However, Ms MacDonald alerted us to a potential leak from the apartment upstairs.

"We looked in to this and resolved it. We attended to this alongside the repair to the electrical fusebox. We had been pursuing access to the property to repair the fusebox for quite some time. We will be re-visiting in the coming weeks to reassess the repair and identify if further work is required. We also provided Ms MacDonald with a reminder of the measures that can be taken to prevent and minimise condensation. These include keeping trickle vents open, ensuring rooms are well ventilated and avoiding drying clothing indoors whenever possible."

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