A Derry man has claimed he has been forced to endure almost two months without heating after his oil was stolen and his tank damaged.
Kevin Liddy (33) who lives in a Housing Executive flat Cromore Gardens said that his physical and mental health was now suffering after being left to deal with the cold since early January.
The Housing Executive have claimed that they have tried to gain entry on a number of occassions but have been refused entry this week when they went to fix the oil tank.
The Housing Executive also said they would cover any additional heating costs being incurred as a result of this situation.
Kevin, who suffers from health conditions including asthma, claimed said he has developed a chest infection and his skin has also been left badly affected be the damp conditions he is living in, while mould has been appearing on the walls of his home.
Kevin lost his father Dermot last week. He said it was “ridiculous” that on the day of his daddy’s funeral he was being asked by housing representatives if he could make himself available at home between 8am and 12pm.
Describing what happened, he said: “My tank was vandalised and they have also stole my oil as well as my dog kennel.
“I can wash my clothes but I can’t dry them. I can’t take a bath and stuff like that. I have to get my neighbours to do stuff for me that I can’t do. This is approximately six or seven weeks.
“It’s wrecking my head. It’s left me feeling down and depressed. I feel as if they don’t care and don’t want nothing to do with it. It’s been absolutely freezing this last few weeks.”
He added: “My father wasn’t well he was in hospital and I was over and back and just recently my father passed away and then I was contacted and asked on the day of my father’s funeral could I be in between 8am and 12pm which I though was ridiculous.
“They left me this blow heater and that was it. That is all I have been left with.”
He said that trying to keep the one small heater housing maintenance authorities have supplied him with going was costing a fortune in electricity, about £10 a day.
“I have now run out of electricity and I don’t get paid till next week,” he said, adding:
“I have been left with nothing for over a month and a half.”
Independent Derry Councillor Gary Donnelly branded the situation disgraceful.
Colr. Donnelly said: “Kevin has been living now six or seven weeks without proper heating and no means of hot water. He has to get neighbours to wash his clothes.
“He had to move his bed into the living room.
“The temporary heating they supplied is completely inadequate.
“Responsibility for this is with the Housing Executive but the Housing Executive are under immense pressure but the issue needs to be addressed.
“They don’t have the proper resources to deal with repairs and incidents like this. As a result of that, people’s health is suffering and I have no doubt that it is the most vulnerable people in our community, the poorest people who are hurting over this issue.”
Colr Donnelly added that a bleak picture was now emerging across the city with people living in increasingly dire conditions finding they cannot get repairs done.
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “The Housing Executive can confirm that it has received a number of reports of vandalism to the oil tank at the property in the past few months, the most recent being on January 23rd.
“We have been in contact with the tenant since then and have attempted to carry out repairs but have been unable to gain access to the property on a number of occasions.
“When the contractor attempted to replace the oil tank this week he was refused access by the tenant who has stated he wants gas installed at his property.
“We have already investigated the possibility of installing gas to the property but have advised the tenant that that the oil system is in good working order and does not need replaced.
“We apologise to the tenant for any inconvenience caused and we are happy to make arrangements to return to the property tomorrow (Thursday) to replace the oil tank.”