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Housing Minsiter has failed tenants badly - Fra McCann

27 December, 2010 - by Fra McCann

Fra McCann Sinn Fein MLA for West Belfast has called on the Minister for Social Development to act immediately to help those left without heating, water and in many instances flooded homes.
Speaking this evening Fra said;

“The minister is more interested in calling for a recalled executive to look at grants whilst at the same time many hundreds of people were left in atrocious conditions over the Christmas holidays.

Many people I and other colleagues dealt with had a bleak Christmas because contractors did not react to the cold spell. I understand that the housing executive had brought in extra staff to take calls but it was also nearly impossible to get through on the numbers. I was on the phone as late as 10pm on Christmas Eve and when the contractor eventually called to the house I was enquiring about they left a small blow heater and said “we will see you after the holidays”. There are many examples of people being told we will get some one out and nothing happening.

Another case involved an 86 year old man who first reported water flooding out of his roof space last Thursday, in fact the housing executive informed me that the first call was received at 4:45pm, several neighbours called to my home the next morning and ask me to intervene which I did, the man had been without electricity, with water running down the walls with a small candle in a freezing house with no response from the housing executive.

His Nephew called the next morning and brought him over to his house out of the intolerable conditions; social services later temporarily put him up in one of their centres until after the holidays.

These are the cases Alex Attwood should have been dealing with and there were many of them. An urgent review is required. You either have an emergency response in place or you don’t; we had been warned that this cold spell was to hit so the questions remain; what precautions were taken? Did Alex Attwood not call all those under his responsibility to discuss how they would react to the weather? Has he discussed with his team how they handle the thaw when it comes and the predicted bad weather in the next week?

His only interest was to call for an executive meeting for the payment of grants, which i have no real difficulty with but will this mend a broken heating system or repair a flooded house or ensure people have running water? No it won’t; he needs to take responsibility for the break down in the system.

 I appreciate that we are in the worst spell of bad weather in decades but the Minister has failed to give the leadership required to help people through this.” CRÍOCH

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