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Update on Communal Heating outages

Estate Management

Blantyre Tower and its adjacent walkways have been suffering from particularly poor heating for the last couple of weeks.

Some residents of the block and walkways have reported heating issues going back for several months. The most recent heating issues coincided with a period of particularly poor weather. Some residents in Blantyre Tower reported having so little heating that indoor temperatures in their flats were as low as 9C. This is significantly below the safe minimum indoor temperature recommended by organisations like Age Concern and put the most vulnerable residents living in these blocks at significant risk.

The WERA Committee met with representatives of the Council and the contractor, Engie, on the 15th of March to discuss the issues and how they might be resolved.

It became clear during these discussions that the estate's communal heating and hot water system has been neglected and is in need of significant remedial works. The full details of the proposed works are not yet available but initial estimates put the cost of these works at over £300,000. The works entail the replacement of many of the system's key valves, pumps and sensors to provide better monitoring and control and enable a greater level of automation than is currently possible.

Given the amount of funding required it is likely that the works will need to be tendered and leaseholders formally consulted before they can be carried out. Whilst it is hoped that the works might commence as soon as practically possible it has been made clear that this may not be for some time. The works might commence and be completed this summer, but they might not. If they do not it is likely that the issues with communal heating and hot water system will continue. The WERA Committee have asked the Council to take steps to minimise the impact on residents should this happen.

It does appear that the TMO wilfully neglected the estate's communal heating and hot water system over a period of many years and has done the same across much of the Council's housing stock given that many other blocks and estates are suffering from similar, if not more serious, issues with their communal heating and hot water systems. The TMO failed to replace key parts and components as they reached the end of their operational life and the end result is a communal heating and hot water system that has become increasingly difficult to manage and repeatedly fails to provide the estate's residents with a reliable supply of heating and hot water.

The Committee is however encouraged by the fact that the Council staff it met to discuss these issues, all of which have only recently been recruited into their posts, behaved in an open, honest and transparent manner and have promised to keep both the Residents Association and the estate’s residents aware of all decisions and developments as they occur. The Residents Association will post any and all updates on the estate’s noticeboards and website as they are received.

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