Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Council house tenants told ‘you will go cold’ as fight to save Braemar fireplaces goes up in smoke

Brian Casey and councillor Geva Blackett had been fighting for the plans to be paused.
Brian Casey and councillor Geva Blackett had been fighting for the plans to be paused.

Aberdeenshire Council has been warned that “there will be casualties” as it proceeds with plans to rip out fireplaces from local authority homes.

The council’s housing stock has been undergoing upgrades for several years, with now only a relative handful of coal fires remaining.

The drive to replace them with electric storage heaters comes as part of Scottish Government targets to tackle climate change.

But some residents in Braemar recently launched a fight to save their fireplaces, with their crusade garnering national headlines.

They say the backup heating supply has been crucial when recent storms have wiped out power, allowing them to stay warm and heat food for themselves and their elderly neighbours.

Braemar Community Council has been petitioning the council to put the project on the back-burner.

Decisive council meeting on petition to save Braemar fireplaces

Aberdeenshire Council’s communities committee met today to debate a petition from Braemar Community Council asking for the works to be paused.

And even those councillors in favour of continuing with the scheme acknowledged they were facing “really, really difficult choices”.

But ultimately members voted 9-4 to sink the petition, meaning the fireplaces will have to go.

‘We have to tell people… You will go cold’

Stonehaven and Lower Deeside representative, Sandy Wallace, painted a bleak picture as he issued a stark warning of the possible ramifications.

He said: “This is a direction of travel set by the Scottish Government, that is the nub of this.

“We have to choose how seriously we take Net Zero and we are now in a situation that was inevitably going to come.

We have to tell people now, ‘you will go cold on occasion, you will go hungry on occasion’.

“In some fully acceptable circumstances, and they will be rare, there will be casualties.

“But this will have to happen because of our commitment to Net Zero.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s Sandy Wallace

Mr Wallace added that he did not “want Net Zero enough” to “accept these consequences” as he voted to pause the scheme.

Petition to save Braemar fireplaces needed in case of emergency

Members of the Cairngorms community have stressed that their fireplaces do not present much threat to eco targets – as they are purely used as a backup.

Brian Casey told us his “has not been lit for 10 years”.

However, he added: “But energy costs are going up, and if we are allowed to keep it I will be getting my bunker filled with coal in case it’s needed.”

Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor Geva Blackett has been battling on behalf of the six affected tenants on Balnellan Road and Balnellan Place.

She accused the council of “putting the cart before the horse” in “racing towards an unachievable goal”.

And Mrs Blackett argued that it’s unrealistic to expect residents to attend community centres when they lose power in stormy weather.

One of the fireplaces that will soon be torn out.

She said: “People will not leave their houses to go to centres to get a bowl of soup when the street lights are out and it’s a blizzard.

“We should be pausing the work instead of saying to people ‘it’s one or the other’ and if they don’t accept the upgrades they are stuck with ancient storage heaters.”

Why does the council want to stick to the plan?

Officers explained that leaving some homes out of the upgrades, or only carrying out a portion of the work required at certain properties, would come at the expense of the public purse.

They explained that having to negotiate new arrangements with contractors could prove costly as they urged councillors to overlook the Braemar complaints.

Banff councillor Glen Reynolds agreed that pausing the scheme “would not work”.

He said: “These are really, really difficult choices.

“We are faced with a dilemma, but this is a direction set out by the Scottish Government.”

Geva Blackett in the Braemar neighbourhood at the heart of the dispute.

Council to push for power networks to be made more robust

Committee convener Anne Stirling led calls for the scheme to proceed

But she urged council officers to make their voices heard in national talks on improving fragile power supplies across Scotland.

She added: “We have to try to influence that national discussion, and national strategy.”

Meanwhile, a specialist group of councillors and officers will be formed to help north-east residents struggling with fuel poverty.

‘Braemar tenants let down for no good reason’ as fireplace petition is scorched

Following the meeting, Mrs Blackett said: “When Balnellan residents approached me for help, I promised to do my best.

“Sadly my best wasn’t good enough.

“Today my fellow ward councillor Paul Gibb and I lost our motion for fireplaces to be retained while the policy was reviewed.

“I am sorry because I feel the council’s tenants have been let down for no good reason”

UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, Mrs Blackett resigned from the council’s Partnership opposition group in protest at the “embarrassing” decision.

She claims others on the group “totally ignored” her request for backing, with “blatant lack of support” shown when “the instruction then went out on WhatsApp” to vote against her.

Mrs Blackett will serve the rest of the council term as an unaligned independent member.

Plea for volunteers after Covid-struck Braemar fire crew couldn’t respond to hotel blaze

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]