HN Action is your forum for readers where our team of journalists investigate complaints.
We want to hear from you about what's happening in your area. Is there something we should be looking into, or do you have some good news to highlight?
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Here's a taste of some of the stories featured in HN Action:
Energy firm's web-only deals under fire
AN Inverness woman has slammed an energy giant for penalising the most vulnerable in society after she claims certain deals are only available to customers who have online access.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) offered existing customer Margaret Ann Grant a fixed tariff deal for a year and asked her to sign up to paperless bills to save money every month – however she claims they told her she could only access it if she did it on her computer and the energy company were not able to give it to her over the phone.The 53-year-old, of Burn Brae in the Westhill area in the city – who is a mature student and also volunteers at the Blythswood Foodbank – felt compelled to speak out on behalf of pensioners and people who are less fortunate.
Read the full story in the Highland News.
Other recent HN Action stories included:
Family left freezing by council
A MUM has slammed Highland Council after her family was left without heating and hot water for days just as sub-zero temperatures hit the area for the first time this winter.
Council tenant Ayeshah MacBeth (24) said she has had to endure a “nightmare”.
She has now lost faith in Highland Council due to the unacceptable amount of time taken to replace her water tank in the home she shares with her husband Terry (27) and two young daughers, Isla (5) and Mia (3).
They had no heating for two days over the weekend and no hot water for five days.
Anger over 140-mile drive for medical
AN Inverness truck driver has slammed the DVLA for being forced to travel 140 miles to have a medical test needed for his HGV licence – when the same test can be done on his doorstep.
Gordon Forsyth (54) of Galloway Drive, Culloden, suffered a heart attack four years ago. In order to keep his HGV licence he is subject to medical examinations every three years.The DVLA wrote and asked him to attend a hospital in Stirling to have a stress echocardiogram carried out as part of his medical. But it has since emerged that the same test can be carried out in Raigmore Hospital.
Sewage nightmare to be sorted
AN Inverness family whose lives were being made a misery by thick, brown, porridge-like sewage overflowing into their conservatory are to have their prayers answered after HN Action highlighted their plight.
Mum-of-two Elaine Stephen, from Smithton Park, battled with the Highland Council and Scottish Water for nine years to get the dodgy drainage sorted. She was forced to rota house-sitting shifts with her sister Anita MacLean to make sure the brown sludge didn’t lift up the drain and get out of control.
But when HN Action exposed the problem this summer, the council and water agency were out within a few days to diagnose what was causing it.
And Scottish Water has now confirmed it will be starting work to divert the sewer from the garden “as soon as practically possible”.
Mum scares off night-time intruder
A BRAVE Inverness mum scared off a burglar while her kids slept upstairs in the house.
Stephanie Maclean (32) of Drummond Road has spoken to HN Action about her terrifying ordeal to warn other folk to be on their guard amid fears of a break-ins upsurge in the city.
Smithton family's seeping sewage nightmare
A SMITHTON mum is really kicking up a stink to try to end a nine-year battle to get her dodgy drainage fixed and a stop “thick, brown porridge” of sewage seeping through into her conservatory and onto her patio.
Elaine Stephen, who lives in Smithton Park with her two children, has even resorted to hanging up a banner outside her home in a desperate attempt to draw attention to the problem and drum up some support.
Mum's fury at burst pipe damage repairs delay
AN Inverness mum claims her three-year-old son has fallen ill after being forced to live in a flat “ridden with damp” following a pipe burst in a neighbouring flat.
And mum-of-three Stephanie Duff (25) of Kilmuir Road, Merkinch, has hit out at Highland Council for failing to repair the damage caused mainly to the children’s bedroom and is having to make her two oldest children sleep in the living room.Stephanie, whose children are Grace Brown (6), and Oliver Brown (3), and 11-week old Rylan Mackinnon, claims Oliver has been showing signs of asthma, and he and his sister have been coughing since water began leaking from her ceiling on June 7.
Save our treehouse from the chop
A THREAT by a grounds maintenance company to charge residents to demolish a tree-house built in Milton of Leys in Inverness has been branded as “political correctness gone mad”.
The tree-house beside a burn just off Elmwood Avenue was constructed for children by an unknown parent and boasts a balcony, steps and seat.
It replaced a dilapidated den on a neighbouring tree in the public open space.
However, Greenbelt – the firm which maintains the ground – has issued Inverness South Community Council a letter to say if the structure is not taken down by mid-June, it will have no option but to remove it, treat the works as disposal of fly-tipping and charge residents for the costs.
Pauline hits out ay bins eyesore
AN Inverness childminder has hit out at council clean-up workers and a housing association after the Highland News was drafted in to help get rubbish off her street.
Mother-of-three Pauline Munro, of Telford Street, told the HN that bins being left out by residents from the Lochalsh Court flats are a constant eyesore and are often kicked over by youths, leaving the street strewn with litter, as well as causing a danger to disabled passers-by.
The HN contacted Cairn Housing, which manages the properties in Lochalsh Court, to find out why the bin store at the flats wasn’t being used and why their residents weren’t collecting their bins and were blocking the pavement.And within 20 minutes of the call, a Cairn van arrived at Lochalsh Court to clean out its bin store and put the bins away.
End of the road in sign wrangle
B&B owners in a busy city road have thanked the Highland News after we helped them get a much-needed street sign.
However, their sign fight is not fully resolved as the residents have been left perplexed after they feel it was put up in the wrong place.
Earlier this month the HN told how visitors to Inverness were going off-track because of a Highland Council hold-up in installing a bilingual Gaelic street sign on Harrowden Road.
The sign has been missing for about three years and the council admitted the delay in providing it was down to an oversight in acquiring a Gaelic translation for the street.
Bus blow leaves residents "trapped"
RESIDENTS in Milton of Leys have said they feel trapped in the estate after a bus service to one part of the area was scrapped because of ongoing building works.
A number of residents have complained about the axing of part of the Stagecoach service to the area and are frustrated as there has been no time limit given for when it could be reinstated.Ken Gowans, SNP councillor for Inverness South, has been assisting the residents who live in and around the Greenwood Place and Greenwood Drive area for months, but has had no luck with either Tulloch Homes or Stagecoach.
New home joy for sewage row family
AN Inverness man says his life has been turned around by council action after the Highland News highlighted how he had endured almost a year of raw sewage spewing into his garden and seeping under the house – some of which travelled up the pipes into his kitchen and bathroom sinks.
HN Action exposed the conditions that Gary Milne and his family lived in at Bridgeview Drive, South Kessock.
But following his plight being highlighted by the HN Action team the family of four have now finally been rehoused by Highland Council – and Mr Milne said he couldn’t be happier.
More cops for patrols in city centre
PLANS to increase police presence in the city centre of Inverness have been announced.
After a series of meetings wbetween Highland Council, Northern Constabulary, the Inverness Safety Partnership and Inverness Business Improvement District (BID), it was decided that more police on the streets was the way forward to tackle anti-social behaviour and litter, according to a press release from the council last week.
The move to increase police presence comes two years after the Highland News first highlighted claims of an alarming growth of anti-social behaviour in the city centre and three months after businesses again highlighted continuing problems.
Chief Inspector Graeme Murdoch said: "We will target additional police resources into the city centre to address specific problems and to provide extra visibility."
Family's stinking sewage ordeal
AN Inverness man says he is at his “wit’s end” after he and his family have endured almost a year of raw sewage spewing into their garden and seeping under the house – some of which travelled up the pipes into his kitchen and bathroom sinks.
Gary Milne told the HN despite an assurance from Highland Council to rehouse the family of four no flit has been arranged almost three months after accepting an offer to move to a top floor flat close by.
But after the HN Action team got involved, Highland Council has said Mr Milne and his family will be moved by the end of this week, or early next week while new investigations are carried out.
Locks changed at terror flats
AN Inverness councillor who raised concerns about Inverness tenants stepping over drinkers and junkies “flashing smack” in their flat blocks has thanked the Highland News for highlighting the issue after action has now been taken to improve security.
Inverness Central councillor Donnie Kerr has revealed Highland Council has improved the locks on security doors at flats in his area and believes the swift intervention was as a result of the problem being probed by the HN Action team.
We recently told how tenants had been complaining that non-residents were gaining access through the security doors of several blocks of council flats in the Merkinch and South Kessock areas, causing noise and disturbances as well as leaving behind litter, including syringes and broken bottles.
£500 repair bill branded a rip-off
TENANTS of a Merkinch council house have been left shocked after they were told they would be charged over £500 if they didn’t repair what they deem to be two tiny defects in the flat before they leave.
Sarah Jack and Lisa Theobald said they feel the council are trying to squeeze every penny out of them before they move into their new home.
The couple who have been living in the Benula Road property for four years had an inspection carried out to make sure the council was happy with the way thet intended on leaving it – but they were left horrified when the inspector told them they would be charged hundreds of pounds if they did not replace a bedroom door and the bath which they claim were already damaged when they moved in.
Sob stories Inverness car sales scam exposed
AN internet scam aimed at Inverness car buyers and exploiting sob stories about fictional dead family members has been uncovered.
The revelation comes in the same week Northern Constabulary revealed they are being impersonated in two email con attempts.
One tries to trick motorists into thinking they have been issued with a parking ticket and demands cash.
The car sales scam on an online marketplace was spotted by Kate MacLennan, from Ardersier, who alerted HN Action to warn readers.
When searching Gumtree for a new vehicle, she received two emails claiming to be selling cars following the deaths of loved ones.
Removal firm says sorry for shoddy service
A CITY couple has slammed a removals firm after they made a “shoddy”
repair to their sofa which was damaged during delivery.
And to add insult to injury the husband and wife claim the firm then broke a wooden moulding off an original 1940s front door when returning the item.
Lynn and Dave Abbott have been left furious with Fraser Removals which is based in Nairn claiming the firm damaged a number of items when it helped them move into their new Culcabock Road home in Inverness.But after HN Action got involved the firm has apologised and said it will repair the damage – but stressed it wished it had been given more time to rectify the problems.
Flooded graveyard like "being buried at sea"
A GRAVEYARD is so water-logged locals don’t want laid to rest there as it “would be like being buried at sea”.
Now action is being called for at the cemetery which has so much excess water that pumps are used to dry out graves before burials, graves are sinking, the priest keeps wellies on hand for funerals, and mourners cannot walk on flooded paths.
It is also claimed the poor state is made worse by grass-cutters leaving headstones at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Beauly covered in grass and uprooting temporary name plaques.
Couple hit ot at "shoddy" estate agent's service
AN Inverness couple claim they’ve been left out of pocket after receiving “shoddy” service whilst selling their property through a firm headed by an estate agent who are currently locked in a legal wrangle.
Debbi and Bill Duncan attempted to sell their family home in Bishops View through the Inverness office of RE
MAX, believing the international agency would be best served to find them a buyer.They forked out over £400 for what they describe as a “joke of a service” which included calls from the selling agent with only an hour’s notice for viewings of their home resulting in childminder Mrs Duncan vacating the premises with small children at short notice. They also claim the selling agent lost a key and that no brochures of their home were produced.
Alfie's back after dognap drama
A STOLEN dog has been re-united with its owner after the Highland News told of how it was snatched in a brazen dog-napping drama.
Little Alfie, a three-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, featured on our front page and has been traced.
Last week we told how he was roaming about owner Pauline Conway’s yard when thieves entered and she believes enticed him into their car.
No ball games ban shocks kids
YOUNGSTERS on an Inverness housing estate have been banned from playing on the only stretch of grass available to them.
The kids watched in astonishment as workmen turned up and erected a “No Ball Games” sign – without offering an alternative area for them to play in.
Now angry parents have signed a petition for a football park to be built for the youngsters and have the support of a local councillor who has branded the estate a “disaster”.
Complaints of children damaging the communal area near Balvonie Square, Milton of Leys, have led to managing agents Peverel Scotland imposing the ball games ban.But the move has left father-of-four Douglas MacDougall fuming and drawing up a protest petition signed by 67 local residents and contact HN Action.
Anger at Raigmore homes upgrade "postal lottery"
FURIOUS residents living in Raigmore in Inverness claim a “postcode lottery” has unfairly decided which houses in the estate do and don’t receive up to £15,000 of free upgrades delivered in an energy savings programme.
They say the work has divided the estate in half leaving some houses “tired and deprived” looking and others appearing brand new after as they each receive makeovers that include free external wall insulation, loft insulation and the installation of gas central heating.
Private home owners living in 10 of the Raigmore areas 25 postcodes were eligible for the national scheme Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) being delivered locally by Scottish Southern Energy (SSE).
But it’s turned into a blow of double whammy proportions for residents not living in the lucky postcodes who say the upgrades on opposite sides of the street have de-valued their homes should they decide to sell.
Mums live in "junkie hell" terror
YOUNG mums say they are living in a city “junkie hell” block of flats and terrified for the safety of their kids and themselves.
Discarded syringes are left lying in open access areas, there are blood splatters on the floors and walls, and human excrement and urine are commonplace in communal areas where the druggies are shooting-up.
Strung-out addicts are also banging on their doors trying to find a dealer to score.
But the brave women have put their fears to one side, to speak out to the Highland News about their plight and the drug culture which is blighting their lives.
The worried mums who live in Harbour Court, in the Merkinch area of Inverness, say neither Highland Council or Northern Constabulary have responded to their pleas for help.
Anger at playgroup closure
PARENTS have been angered by a Highland Council decision to pull funding from a popular Inverness playgroup.
Cheeky Monkeys, at Hilton Community Centre, will shut at the end of the school year in June with three staff losing their jobs.
The shock news came just over a month after the enrolment deadline for the next year.
Parents claim it has left them searching for places for their youngsters in nearby primary school groups and also affecting their childcare arrangements.
A letter to parents claims there are more spaces than children in the catchment area.
But working parents have hit out at the decision and are appealing to council chiefs for a rethink.
Streetscape bollards branded a danger
A CHARITY representing disabled people in Inverness says granite bollards which popped up across Inverness city centre as part of the controversial £6 million Streetscape project are a hazard to partially sighted people.
The Access Panel, which promotes improved access for disabled people, says partially sighted pedestrians bang into or trip over the bollards because their neutral colouring makes them “blend” into the street.
It is now calling on the Highland Council to take action as such as adding reflective strips to the granite posts in a bid to make them more visible.
The charity’s pleas to the local authority are being supported by a city councillor who says on a grey and overcast day the bollards are “very difficult” to see.
The bollards, which are in place to prevent vehicles trespassing on pedestrian walkways, are dotted all over the city centre including Church Street, Union Street and Queensgate.