House left like a building site for five monthsBy Victoria Smith
September 30, 2011
A council tenant has hit out at the borough’s social housing repairs team for leaving her home looking like a building site for five months.
The chimney on Susan Chatterton’s home in Waterloo Road was found to be unsafe earlier this year and scaffolding was put in place so Wokingham Borough Council’s repairs team could remove the structure on May 31.
However, the chimney, which Ms Chatterton says she was told was at risk of falling, was not removed until this month.
Despite work to remove the chimney taking place, the scaffolding has still not been removed from outside the property.
Ms Chatterton said other homes in her street and nearby have also been effected by the slow repairs.
She said: “I have phoned them up and asked if I should get some extra lights for Christmas so I can decorate the scaffolding because it doesn’t seem to be coming down any time soon.
“They have told me it won’t be there that long, but it has already been there since May.
“The council told me it was a big health and safety issue and they needed to take it down, but it has taken them months to do it.”
Ms Chatterton added she had feared her home was at a greater risk of burglary because of the scaffolding and said communication about what was being done to her home had been poor, particularly when the scaffolding was first put in place.
She said: “I was told the chimney was unsafe and that was why the scaffolding was being put up, but they haven’t worked quickly to take it away. My home looks like a building site.”
The council’s general maintenance work was taken over by Reading Borough Council earlier this year in a deal the council said could save £105,000 over the next two years.
This followed a three-month trial where Reading council looked after some properties in Wokingham and no complaints were made relating to repairs carried out.
A council spokeswoman said the scaffolding was put in place so the chimneys could be inspected and a closer study found the chimneys were actually not dangerous, but some of the bricks were showing signs of deterioration and flaking.
She said: “At this time we carried out initial remedial works where necessary to the affected areas.
“We then developed a technical specification and procured a contractor in line with our procurement guidelines.
“We have an arrangement where we only pay for erection and removal of scaffolding and no additional cost while it remains in place. It would have been a waste of resources and added additional cost to the project to remove scaffolding before the works were complete.”
She added six chimney stacks have been removed to below roof line as part of the work and scaffolding is due to be removed next week.