Housing Executive puts double glazing scheme on hold

DOUBLE glazing schemes for Housing Executive properties across Newtownabbey have been put on hold because they are too expensive.

In the Executive’s Programme for Government last year, Ministers pledged to install double glazing in every Housing Executive property by 2015.

However, after concerns were raised about the cost of individual schemes, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has put the project on hold.

He said the schemes already completed were “extremely and unnecessarily expensive”.

There are seven projects in the pipeline for Newtownabbey.

A scheme in Ballyduff, which started this week, will go ahead as planned. However, the six other projects will now be suspended until costs are reassessed.

Ulster Unionist councillor, Ken Robinson said he understood the need for the suspension of the scheme.

“This project was implemented to improve fuel poverty levels and while it is sad to see the double glazing scheme suspended I can understand the Minister’s thinking.

“It is only right that in the current economic backdrop the government gets the best value for money,” he said.

MLA Stewart Dickson added: “I am very concerned. Many Housing Executive properties are long overdue this basic improvement which will go some way to making people’s homes easier to heat.

“I have received numerous requests for housing executive properties to receive double glazing due to the poor state of the windows and frames. Many of these properties urgently need double glazing replacement windows, particularly with the rising cost of heating.

“I understand that it is right and proper to secure best value for the work, however, I am concerned that the delay caused due to the suspension of installation will cause a huge backlog list of housing executive properties.

“I urge the DSD Minister to ensure that this process is conducted swiftly and thoroughly and to investigate the original tendering process to make sure that lessons are learned.”

A Housing Executive spokesman said he was unable to say when the schemes for the six Newtownabbey projects might begin.