Council tenants unhappy with upgrades to their homes by private contractor

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More than 50 council tenants in Northampton have complained about upgrades to their homes by a private contractor.

Northampton Borough Council is employing Mears to sub-contract tradesmen in a bid to improve kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms in 1,200 homes by 2015.

But after several readers contacted the Chron with concerns about work done under the Decent Homes scheme, the council said currently 86 per cent of people were satisfied with the upgrades. There have been 56 unsatisfied tenants out of 399, it said.

Bill Williams, carer for Debbie Steedman, who lives in Kings Heath, said: “Debbie lived with us for two weeks while the upgrade was carried out but we took her back to find the work was nowhere near finished.

“The kitchen bench came away when I leaned on it, sockets were loose, wires to the shower were exposed to any steam and they hadn’t started installing the fire at all. They’d even used the loo and 
not flushed it. It was disgusting.

“They expected her to live in those conditions.”

The homes are being upgraded under a Governmmet directive at a cost of £39million. More than 5,000 homes in Northampton will have work done and tenants are unable to refuse as they do not own the properties.

Others who contacted the Chron about Mears’ work included Carmela Corrigan, of Bourne Crescent, Kings Heath, who has been waiting for bath panels and kitchen cupboards to be installed since October. She said: “The tradesmen even left a hot water pipe under the bath loose and the dripping water eventually caused a huge hole in the ceiling downstairs.”

On behalf of Mears, Councillor Mary Markham, Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing said: “We are always concerned to hear of any problems experienced by our tenants when work is being done in their home. We have met with Mears to discuss the problems experienced with tenants in Kings Heath.

“We have regular meetings with them and our other contractors to review performance and discuss how each area is progressing. This is also a chance for us to raise any concerns on behalf of our tenants.”

The council said tenants with an issue can contact or 0300 330 7000.