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£100k to fix damp in council homes

PUBLISHED: 11:29 23 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:32 30 June 2010

URGENT calls by families who have gone through winter in houses lined with damp and mould, have been answered with cash being allocated to deal with the problem.

URGENT calls by families who have gone through winter in houses lined with damp and mould, have been answered with cash being allocated to deal with the problem.

Nearly 500 council houses in Great Yarmouth, and especially on the Barrack Estate, have been under-insulated because of a “fault” when they were built in the 1930s.

The problem stems from a lack of insulation, allowing cold air in and causing condensation to build.

And now, having previously said that it did not have the funding to tackle the problem, the council has specifically set aside £100,000 to deal with the problem this year, with the expectation of the same amount being provided for the three to four years following until all the affected houses have been dealt with.

Among those who had led the call for action was Graham Piggott, a former carpenter who so feared the inadequate heating of his home on Admiralty Road could lead to health issues for two of his youngest children Liona, 9 and Ikenna, 10, so much so, he installed his own insulation.

Mr Piggott, 52, explained he thought the lack of insulation could have far-reaching consequences for many of those living in the houses, both in terms of costs and illness.

He said: “As well as the issue of fuel poverty, it would be nice to do a survey to see how many children from the Barrack Estate have asthma or breathing difficulties. Nearly everyone I talk to around here has the same problems, but many don't seem to want to complain because they're afraid to speak out, but I know this isn't right and wouldn't be acceptable in modern housing.”

Under the new funding plan, which was confirmed in the new budget for the coming financial year, those houses with the worst insulation would be targeted first, as well as houses of those that had put in complaints.

The work, estimated to cost £1,000 per house, would involve the insulation being placed directly onto the sloped ceilings affected to stop the cold and damp entering the house.

But Mr Piggott said: “To be honest I will believe it when I see it. One of my issues is that this problem has been around so long and no-one seemed to notice.”

David Frowde, technical director of community housing, explained the money was allocated as part of the budget for the new financial year, and came into action at the start of this month.

He said: “Part of the problem is because we've upgraded the performance of the houses generally, those smaller areas where the insulation is not to a high standard have a become a focus of condensation.”

“It is an issue and over this winter it has been particularly noticeable to tenants. To reflect that we have re-prioritised our budget for this year and allocated money to deal with the problem and address concerns.”

However, he accepted funding in the future would have to be approved on a year-by-year basis, depending upon what was deemed a priority at the time.

“At the moment our intention is to carry on the programme, but we would always look at our priorities as we work through the budget year by year - it's always subject to review.”


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