IT HAS been almost two and a half years since South Ayrshire Council decided to knock down the high flats at Riverside Place in Ayr.

While the majority of the 234 flats are now empty, between 30 and 40 residents remain. That number keeps falling as those who have had to wait for new homes or simply don’t want to give up until the very last move on.

Some are still furious at the council, claiming that no good reason was ever made for the demolition, that undue pressure was placed on residents, many of them older people, and remain angry at what they see as a ‘twisting’ of the survey that ensured demolition was chosen.

David Petrie, a community councillor and resident of Riverside Place, said that even some of the residents who were promised new homes have been let down.

Others who had wished to move to temporary accommodation have since been told that this ‘temporary’ home is now permanent.

Not everyone is unhappy with the outcome, of course. Many were offered plush new council houses, such as the ones at Waggon Road.

But many of those who are happy at their future homes agree that the process to get there was wrong. For some like Reg Tait, the pressure placed him on to agree to demolition and the absence of a reason for demolition are the most difficult to accept.

Reg has spent 35 years in and around the flats, having looked after his mother until she died 15 years ago. He said the flats and the community it grew within them were ‘fantastic’.

David Petrie, who has been opposed to the plans from the outset, said: “We were told by housing officers it was to be demolished long before the decision was taken. Officers came along and said it was a fait accompli.

“They said we had three choices and this is choice. There was never a real vote. A lot of people were put under pressure to do the right thing, according to what the council wanted.”

Mr Petrie said that many former residents of the flats were being let down.

Many who had been offered homes, he said,  had to go into temporary accommodation in the interim, but were now discovering their temporary digs were permanent.

Mr Tait said that he understood that council was looking at the situation from a different perspective to tenants. Instead it was the pressured approach from officials and the ‘manipulation’ of the results that saw the council ‘merge’ votes in favour of two separate options involving demolition.

Mr Tait said that he was told that demolition was going to happen and claimed that one housing officer even tried to get him to sign a piece of scrap paper saying he would accept the demolition.

He said he has since agreed to a move to housing to be developed near the racecourse, but still faced a wait for the houses to be built.

He finally agreed to the move there, having been offered places all across South Ayrshire, including Girvan, Patna and Barrhill.

“None of that was acceptable as I don’t have a car.”

Many of the residents have their difficulties with mobility, including Mr Petrie. He explained that he really struggled with walking any distance, which meant that most of the locations he was offered have been completely unsuited to his health.

Mr Tait also hit out at the claim that 50 years was the maximum lifespan of the building.

He said: “This place was built with concrete blocks and would be up as long as Culzean Castle. When we had meeting with council architects they said lifespan 50 years.

“They’re not going to knock down Culzean Castle because it is more than 50 years old. The whole thing is just a farce.”

Not everyone was negative, with some residents happy to be moving to new and better homes and speaking positively about dealings with the council.