Isles worker helping to bring empty homes back to use recognised at national awards

Murdo MacLeod, empty homes officer with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, has been given the Oustanding Individual title.
Murdo MacLeod, empty homes officer with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, has been given the Oustanding Individual title.

A local government officer from the Western Isles who has helped to bring 61 empty homes back into use in the first year in his job has lifted a top award.

Murdo MacLeod, empty homes officer with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, has been given the Oustanding Individual title at the Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champions of the Year Awards.

Mr MacLeod is the first person to hold the post for the Comhairle and has far exceeded expectations with 61 properties brought back to life in 12 months in his remote patch.

The Western Isles have one of the highest rates of empty homes in Scotland due to a long-term trend of population decline.

The post is part funded by the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP).

The Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champions of the Year Awards are held alongside the annual conference of the SEHP.

The Partnership is funded by the Scottish Government and run by housing charity Shelter Scotland.

It provides guidance and support to councils on the issue of empty homes.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Congratulations to the winners and finalists whose excellent work is helping end the blight of empty homes in communities across Scotland at a time when we need more homes.

“Since 2010 the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has continued to bring an increasing number of privately-owned homes back into use, with almost 700 homes in the past six months alone.

“We want to see the successful and effective work these awards demonstrate delivered in every local authority in Scotland by dedicated Empty Homes Officers.

“I encourage every authority in Scotland to engage with the Partnership to make that happen and bring these benefits to their communities.”

SEHP national manager Shaheena Din said: “Congratulations to this year’s award winners.

“The hard work which is happening across Scotland on empty homes is leading to improved results.

“This year, empty homes officers have brought 5,037 empty properties back into use since 2010, with more than a quarter of those in the last six years.

“The importance of having specialist staff working on empty homes in Scotland can’t be over stated.”

Anyone concerned about an empty home in their neighbourhood can get advice and information at www.emptyhomespartnership.scot