Nov 9 2012 By Jackie Grant
Devastated pensioner Vida Paul was evicted from her Dumfries home by the council on Wednesday.
After a three-year battle stay at Westie’s Hame in Brooms Road ended in defeat, a taxi was phoned to take the 80-year-old to a flat in Kirkcowan Street.
Defiant Vida refused to allow sheriff’s officers into her house but they gained entry when council workers used a crowbar to open the door.
An hour later, the widower left the house with her three dogs but vowed: “I’ll be back.”
Mrs Paul’s fight was finally lost when Sheriff George Jamieson granted an ejection order to remove her from the house which had been branded uninhabitable after it was gutted by fire in July, 2009.
But the property had been in a rundown condition for years before that, prompting complaints from neighbours. After the fire, Mrs Paul lived between part of the house and a caravan, which was towed away along with an old car on Wednesday.
Before she was ejected, her spokesman Dr Ken Donnan described the situation as “shameful” and said: “The people who are evicting her should be prosecuted.”
He added: “She’s in an awful mess. We’re to blame for electing councillors who have no hearts.
“This is an 80-year-old lady whose house was destroyed by arson. She has a bad heart and taking away the love of her life could kill her.
“Her house is a mess but it’s a substantial house and it’s not dangerous, or falling down. There’s a report that says the house is okay. It would cost £60,000 to knock it down and £53,000 to renovate it.”
Dumfries and Galloway Council issued a statement before the eviction stating that they had made “extensive efforts to engage with Mrs Paul to secure her co-operation to address problems associated with the condition of her property and its impact on her own health and welfare”.
It added: “Mrs Paul’s safety has always been a major consideration in determining council actions. This became a significant issue after the fire at her premises in 2009.
“In 2010, structural and property condition surveys were carried out with Mrs Paul’s consent. It was hoped Mrs Paul would co-operate with the council to allow works to be undertaken to bring her property above the tolerable standard.
“The initial offer was for the council to undertake this work and to place a charge on the property. Mrs Paul rejected this offer of assistance.” A work notice was then served on her which required her to carry out repairs required to bring her property up to the tolerable standard by January 2011, a deadline she failed to meet.
The council’s statement said: “Since March 2011, the council has continued to pursue a course of action that would assist Mrs Paul to be able to bring her property to the tolerable standard.
“However, Mrs Paul has consistently failed to properly engage or co-operate with the council. As a consequence, the council’s housing sub-committee agreed to apply to the sheriff for an ejection order so that the demolition order agreed by the sub-committee could be implemented.
“The sheriff granted the ejection order.”
Mrs Paul eventually emerged from the house on Wednesday.
With a defiant smile, the pensioners said: “I feel dreadful. We paid cash for this house and I have always paid my council tax.
“I am devastated and I don’t want to go but this is not the end. I’ll be back.”
Yesterday, Dr Donnan told the Standard that the case would continue to the Court of Session.
He said: “The best we can do at the moment is to delay demolition of the house but if they do finally get their way, then Vida will be left with nothing.”