Family living in fire-hit block of flats say they have been plagued by antisocial behavior for years

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A family staying in block of flats deliberately set on fire last weekend have spoken out about the fear they’ve been living with for the last three years.

Pregnant Aimee Robertson (26) is currently isolating at home with her husband and three daughters at her home at Rowan Drive in Blackburn after catching covid.

The fire is being treated as deliberate and police have questioned both a 10 and 11-year-old in connection with the fire under ACRA legislation (Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland Act).

Aimee said the flats have been plagued by antisocial behavior by youths for years.

She said: “Ever since we moved in we’ve had trouble from these gangs of young people, coming to the building and peeing on doors, breaking windows, throwing grit all over the landing, and drawing on the walls.

“There’s nothing I can do about them – by the time you’ve phoned the police they’ve all scattered – and they always just come back.

“Everyone knows who they are but obviously we can’t name them – but I think if they’re big enough to commit the crime, they should be big enough to take the responsibility.”

The community has rallied behind the victims of the Rowan Terrace fire attack, with a GoFundMe set up by Lee-Anne Davis’ daughter raising over £2000 for the family, after she had to be rescued from her home.

While no person was seriously physically injured by the fire, the damage to the property, and the lasting psychological damage to all tenants, is immeasurable.

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Aimee went on to speak about the night the fire took hold. She said: “Around 10 to 6 I was woken up to the sound of a fire alarm.

“I was in a fire as a child and we lost everything – it was a traumatic experience for me – so I just froze.

Aimee’s cat Jack passed away after the fire

Before I knew it, firefighters were dragging my three daughters kicking and screaming out of the flat out into the landing that was black with smoke.”

Aimee’s children were checked over by the ambulance and were cleared for any injuries – they then waited in their mum’s car for two and a half hours while firefighters fought the blaze.

The family’s pets were evacuated from the property as well, and seemed fine on the Saturday night – until the Sunday morning when the Robertson’s cat began to cough – it then collapsed before being pronounced dead by a vet.

The cat, Jack, was Aimee’s grandmother’s – who now lives in a nursing home.

Aimee, who already suffers from high-blood pressure, then spoke about the impact the fire has had on herself and her family’s health, she said: “We’re all sick with stress – my husband and I have been taking it in turns to sleep just from the fear of it happening again.

“My kids are absolutely devastated, all they’ve done is cry since it happened – my youngest is three, and she used to sleep curled up with Jack every night.

“The only reason we were able to convince my nan to go into a nursing home was because we were looking after her cat, and now for this to happen – I feel so guilty even though I know it’s not my fault.”

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Aimee also hit out at the council, claiming there has been a lack of support since the fire.

She also said the communal door is in need of repair, meaning youths can access the flats uninvited – something the council has strongly refuted.

Aimee continued: “I’ve not heard from the council at all, I’ve been trying to phone my housing officer since Monday morning but haven’t heard anything.

“They got into the building in the first place because the council aren’t keeping up with repairs – the landing door is meant to be secure but the kids can just walk right in whenever they want.

“I’ve put a complaint in my housing officer.”

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “This is a very serious incident and our thoughts are with those affected.

“Council officers have been working to support local tenants and have contacted all those within the block of flats where the fire took place and continue to do so.

The fire gutted Aimee’s neighbor’s flat

“Council Officers have spoken to the tenant in question and at that time no further advice or assistance was required or requested.

“We would completely refute any claims that the council had failed to keep up with repairs to the communal door.

“At the time of the incident, no issues had been reported to us regarding the communal door and there were no repair works outstanding.

“The last request for a repair to the communal door was made last July and was repaired within two days.

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“We are unable to comment further on the incident as this is the subject of an ongoing police investigation.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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