Deal ‘close’ to fix Preston homes botched in Government scheme

Photo Neil Cross
Freda Turner, of Rutland Street, Preston, says she's been waiting four years for her damp, mushroom-filled house to be fixed after a government-backed cladding and window scheme went wrong
Photo Neil Cross Freda Turner, of Rutland Street, Preston, says she's been waiting four years for her damp, mushroom-filled house to be fixed after a government-backed cladding and window scheme went wrong
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HUNDREDS of homes damaged in a Government scheme to make them energy efficient could soon be fixed after years of serious problems.

Sixty-two properties in the Fishwick area of Preston have been identified as needing urgent repair work due to shoddy workmanship under a Government-backed energy efficiency scheme, but the full extent of the problem could involve “a couple of hundred” homes.

Around three years ago, those eligible were offered new windows, cladding and boilers free of charge under the scheme, but much of the workmanship was poor and the company involved has since gone into liquidation.

One resident has spoken of having to scrape mould off her living room wall.

Preston Council - which had no involvement in the scheme - has spent months lobbying energy regulator Ofgem to get repairs carried out, and became involved in a wrangle over picking up the bill. But now town hall bosses now claim that a deal for the repair work could be imminent - at no cost to the local taxpayer.

Coun Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for resources and Fishwick Ward councillor, said: “The council has been lobbying the interested parties to find a solution to this problem. I’m pleased that a solution is now looking more likely and we’ll work with Ofgem to ensure repairs can be made to those properties affected.”

Ofgem denied it had asked Preston Council to pay for the work and that it was working with energy generator Intergen to address the problem. Intergen had no involvement in the original work but has been appointed to carry out a variety of energy improvement work in deprived areas.

Ofgem said: “We have been involved in discussions with Intergen and other parties including the council about resolving this, but that is the extent of our involvement. We haven’t instructed anyone to carry out the work. We got involved here because of the link to the measures Intergen had agreed to undertake following our investigation.”

Freda Turner, 60, of Rutland Street said her house had been ruined since having the work. She was approached by a door-to-door salesman from now defunct Eco Green Renwables (EGR UK) in May 2013, offering home improvements free-of-charge under the Government scheme.

She agreed to have wall cladding, new windows and a new boiler, but when poor weather set in, she began noticing problems.

She said: “There’s water dripping in through my living room and bedroom that I have to catch in a bucket and mushrooms are growing along the skirting boards.

“I’m having to slice them off and bleach the wall as well as move all my furniture.

“It can’t be healthy living like this. I’ve been off work twice with chest infections and I have two grandchildren I can’t have coming round, breathing in spores.”

Mrs Turner, who works at a local primary school, said she was pleased a deal was close, but demanded specific dates for repairs be given as soon as possible. She says she was told the repair work on her house would start by August 8, then was told that was not the case.

She said: “I’m very frustrated, I feel like I’m getting passed from pillar to post.”

“Because I still don’t know when things are going to be fixed, my daughter’s even wondering whether I can be rehomed while the work is done. It’s that bad.”

An Ofgem spokesperson said they were aware of problems at Mrs Turner’s address, but had not been in discussion with individual householders and haven’t made any comment on the date of completion of works or regarding who has responsibility for delivery.