Some home owners in Willaston were shocked to find out their kitchen refurbishments have been rescheduled to be done while they are still living in the houses rather than being done at the same time as major external renovations while they are rehoused elsewhere.
Peter McLean, of Watterson Lane, said the original plan was to rehouse tenants while major rebuilding work was carried out on external walls and kitchens were refitted inside.
But he said a recent letter now informed tenants the building work would go ahead as planned in December but the kitchens would be refitted while tenants were still present, starting in March.
’They say it’s going to take 15 working days during which there is no access to the kitchen,’ he said.
’The letter says the cooker will be disconnected and a small ceramic hob will be provided to use in another room. They said it was because of health and safety concerns with two contractors working on the site at once.’
But Mr McLean said he got mixed messages when he contacted the council and was told the reason was to ensure each contractor cleaned up after the job and it was clearer who was responsible for what, if the two jobs were carried out separately.
Douglas North MHK David Ashford, a former councillor and former housing committee chairman, said he had been contacted by a number of residents concerned by the change of approach. So far around 70 houses have had the work done with two contractors on site at once.
Mr Ashford said: ’They are telling me it’s a health and safety matter. I’ve spoken to a lot of tenants, some of them elderly, who are worried about the disruption. Some are opting out of having the kitchens done just to avoid the upset.’
The council’s housing committee chairman Claire Wells said the change of approach had been advised by their planning supervisor, following the latest monthly progress meeting with the contractors.
She said: ’There are health and safety concerns. It’s been bubbling along for some time. They have tried to resolve them but it has become unworkable. There is no conflict between the contractors.’
She added work on the kitchens takes up to three weeks and will continue ahead of the external refurbishments which take longer so the two jobs will gradually get further out of synch with one another.
Mrs Wells and other housing committee members will be attending a public meeting at Willaston Methodist Church tomorrow (Wednesday), starting at 6.30pm.
’We don’t want to inconvenience people so any major concerns should be raised there so we can see what can be done,’ Mrs Wells said.