Woman left without water for fortnight during house refits

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THE refurbishment of a housing association’s properties in Seahouses has led to problems for some residents with one woman unable to bathe for two weeks, according to a parish councillor.

At Monday’s meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council, Coun Pauline Orrin reported that at least four residents were struggling during the work on their homes in Stone Close.

She said that one woman hadn’t had a bath for two weeks because her water was off while another man had to sit out in his garden because of all the dust.

But Berwick Borough Housing, who own the properties, said they have had no direct complaints and even a number of thank-you letters from residents.

They also said that residents have been offered respite accommodation nearby during the refurbishment.

On Monday night, Coun Orrin said: “The house I went in this morning was freezing.

“The resident lives upstairs at the moment, she’s stuck in the bedroom.

“She finds the stairs difficult but it’s the only safe place to be.”

Concerns were also raised about £200 vouchers for redecorating that have been offered to residents – but only for use in certain shops.

Coun Sylvia Hillan said: “For older people who maybe don’t have transport, it’s difficult to get to Alnwick or Berwick.

“Why not use the shop in the village?”

Yesterday, Dawn Keightley, director of operations at Berwick Borough Housing, said: “When a refurbishment programme is planned, considerable thought is given, in consultation with residents, to how any disruption can be kept to a minimum.

“In the case of Stone Close, where each property is planned to take around four weeks to refurbish from start to finish, all residents have been offered respite accommodation nearby for the duration.

“It is, however, up to the residents whether or not they decide to make use of this during the works.

“Residents have also each been offered a voucher towards redecoration of their homes.

“We understand, however, that there has been some feedback at a parish council meeting about the vouchers.

“We are very happy to reconsider the voucher offer in light of this feedback and see how it can be improved in future.

“Clearly refurbishment programmes can be disruptive, which is why our team works hard with residents to try to minimise any disruption and to sort any issues quickly.

“That said, we have had no direct complaints about the process, in fact, quite the contrary, we have had a number of thank-you letters from residents who are really pleased with the improvements to their homes.

“Equally, we recognise that these programmes are very important to residents as they improve not just the quality of their homes but the quality of their lives.

“With this in mind, we would encourage residents to talk to us directly if they have any concerns at all about the refurbishment programme.”

They reported that one resident, Mrs Ogle, said: “I am having a new kitchen fitted and it is really appreciated.

“As far as I am concerned everybody has been great.

“I am absolutely delighted with it.”