Friday, 16 November 2012

Victory for Residents as Council U Turn on Oldcourt Houses

Cllr John Brady and members of the Olcourt Residents Action Group holding a section of roofing which had been removed by contractors from the house behind them

Sinn Féin Councillor John Brady has welcomed the complete u turn by
Bray Town Council in relation to the fire safety works in the Oldcourt
Estate. After a number of weeks of pressure on the council by Cllr
Brady and the Oldcourt Residents Action Group the council has started
to remove the old flat roofs from the houses in the estate as
recommended in the 2007 fire safety audit.

Speaking after inspecting a number of the houses which are undergoing
the refurbishment work Councillor Brady said "I am delighted that the
penny has finally dropped with the council and they have eventually
taken on-board the concerns of the Oldcourt residents and actually
started removing the old flat roofs from the attic space in the
Oldcourt houses.  Since this work commenced in the estate on a number
of houses the council have been trying to dress the works up as an
energy efficiency scheme. The council had been adamant from the outset
that they would not be removing the original flat roof structure which
contains the highly flammable bitumen from the attic space. Huge
amounts of pressure have been exerted on the council by myself and the
Oldcourt Residents Action Group, this group had been established to
campaign for the houses in Oldcourt to be made safe in accordance with
the councils own fire safety audit which in 2007 listed a essential
works to be carried out"

Cllr Brady continued "Whilst i welcome the energy efficiency work that
will be carried out on the houses in Oldcourt which will see new
windows and doors, insulation boards fitted internally on the external
walls and new central heating systems, i firmly believe this is just a
pretext for the council to try address some of the serious fire
related problems in the houses without them putting their hands up and
admitting liability. At the last council meeting a large protest was
held and the views of the residents were articulated loud and clear
and this was followed up on Tuesday when officials from the council
along with the consultant engineer for the refurbishment project Mr.
Donal Higgins from Hayes Higgins Partnership met with residents from
Oldcourt to answer questions relating to the houses and to hold a
lottery to see what houses would be done first. At this meeting and
all along it has been stated that the flat roofs would not be removed
with officials stating it would be too inconvenient for the residents.
The Oldcourt Residents Action Group at that meeting stated that it
essential that the flat roofs be removed and the houses made safe once
and for all and they handed Mr Donal Higgins a letter of protest
out-ling what works needed to be done as was laid out in the fire
safety audit"

Brady went onto say "On Wednesday morning i got a tip off that the
contractors who are currently in Oldcourt working on a number of the
houses had been contacted by the council and informed that they had to
start the process of removing the flat roofs from the houses. The
contractors who have been working in the houses now for a number of
weeks where nearing the end of the works in these houses and in fact
have painters and decorators working in the houses, up until they got
word on Wednesday morning the removal of the flat roofs was not in
their contract, so its quite clear that the pressure on the council
from the Oldcourt Residents Action Group and myself has forced the
council into a complete u turn on this serious issue"

"This u turn by the council has to be welcomed and is a victory for
the residents whose  simple demand is to live in houses that a safe
and that the issues identified in the 2007 fire safety audit are fully
implemented. The decision by the council to start the process of
removing the fire hazard old flat roofs vindicates everything i have
being saying over many years about the houses and shows that ordinary
people can when they stand together make a huge difference because the
council had been hell bent on keeping the residents in the dark and
pushing through another botched job on the houses that didn't address
all the issues in the houses" continued Brady

Brady continued "The Oldcourt Residents Action Group should be very
proud of their victory which will go along way towards making the
Oldcourt houses safe once and for all and improving the quality of
life for everyone. However the group nor myself are not planning on
going away, nearly 30% of residents in the estate have bought their
homes in good faith from the council and the scheme must also be
extended to them. We also need guarantees that when the €1 million for
the 32 houses in phase 1 of the works is spent more funding will be
forthcoming to complete the entire estate"

Large quantities of the old flat roofing still containing Bitumen felt which has been removed from the attics and ready for removal  

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