The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has apologised to two Limavady families who have been without heating in their homes for the last six weeks.
Wendy Brown and her family, and her neighbour Ann Smyth, say that since August 10 they have been unable to use their coal fires in their Anderson Park homes, which were able to heat the water for the radiators.
The NIHE have vowed to resolve the problem shortly, and say initially they had wanted to install gas, but it wouldn’t be available for some months. However, they say they plan to install central heating in both homes soon.
In the meantime, mum of two, Wendy says the last six weeks have been tough and expensive and the family is using a small electric heater for warmth.
“We’re constantly having to put on the hot water to get washed and do the dishes,” Wendy told the ‘Journal’. “I’m having to use the tumble dryer because you can’t get clothes dried. Before this started we would have spent £10 a week on electricity, now it’s £20 a week.”
Ann says it’s not so bad for her as she doesn’t have young children, but said given the change in weather recently, her house at night is a lot colder.
“It’s been a nightmare,” she says, “but sure you just have to get on with it.”
Both families have been in contact with the Housing Executive and hope their dilemma will be resolved shortly. They are also remarkably upbeat about their situation, which local councillor and Limavady Deputy Mayor Alan Robinson puts down to “the Limavady spirit”.
Working hard to get the problem sorted, Colr. Robinson says it’s been a “frustrating issue” to deal with. He doesn’t blame staff at the local NIHE office in Limavady, who he describes as “invaluable”.
“The question I am posing is - why has someone not cleared their diary and pushed the boat out to get this resolved? From what I understand this has possibly happened because of a contractual issue, but the point I would like to make is, I hope this never happens again and lessons are learnt and whatever caused this to happen is addressed. Had this happened a couple of years ago, in the depths of winter – well it’s not worth thinking about.”
In a statement to the ‘Journal’, a spokesperson for the NIHE said, “We apologise to the tenants concerned for the delay in having their heating system replaced and the inconvenience this has caused. We had originally hoped to install gas, but this was not available for a number of months. We will be installing oil central heating in both homes very shortly, possibly next week. We have appraised the tenants on the situation on a regular basis and offered both tenants temporary heating.”