Thursday, 5 November 2015

Essential Fire Safety work on Oldcourt houses must be completed-Brady

Wicklow Sinn Féin Councillor and General Election candidate John Brady has called on the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to ensure that funding to complete the essential fire safety work in the Oldcourt housing estate is provided and fast tracked. Two phases of work in the estate have been completed, this came about after a campaign led by Councillor Brady secured over €1m in funds to carry out the work, however there are still a substantial number of houses in the estate that haven’t had the work carried out.

Speaking at a recent council meeting the Sinn Féin councillor said “Unfortunately, after good progress was made in carrying out essential fire safety works on the fire prone houses in the Oldcourt estate in Bray, that work has unfortunately come to a complete standstill. Two phases of work within the estate have seen a large number of houses refurbished and the serious fire safety issues get addressed. Funding has now run out and there are still a large number of houses that need the critical works carried out. It’s critical given the history of the estate and the damming fire safety audit, that funding is fast tracked so the works on all houses can be completed.”

“The Oldcourt estate was built in the 1970's as a temporary solution to the housing crisis at the time. However the serious problems in the houses started after a botched refurbishment scheme in the estate in the late 1980's. The old flat roof structure was simply built around and the original flat roof was left in the attic space of the refurbished houses. Since the refurbishment there have been 15 serious house fires in the estate which have resulted in the loss of 7 lives. An independent fire safety audit was carried out in 2005. The findings were published in 2007 and this report outlined a substantial number of things that needed to be done in the houses to make them safer.”

Brady went onto say “The work to date in the houses has addressed all of the identified fire safety problems; it also has the added benefit of improving the energy efficiency of the homes. Any attempt to scale back on the extent of the works or to completely withhold funding will not only further endanger lives, it will be rigorously opposed. The recent tragic events in Carrickmines must serve as a reminder of the danger of fire, especially if the accommodation isn’t up to proper standards. Both the Government and the Council are acutely aware of the Fire Safety Report relating to Oldcourt, and they have a duty to the people living in all the houses in the estate that all the houses are brought up to fire safety standard without delay.”

Cllr Brady who is a long time campaigner on the Oldcourt issue concluded “There is another dimension to this, we are in the midst of a housing crisis, and families are lingering on lengthy housing waiting lists for 12 years and more. In Oldcourt the council has 8 boarded up houses that are needed to move families into when the work is been carried out on their home. Therefore, it’s also critical that the funding is fast tracked to complete the scheme not only so they are safer, but so these 8 houses can be permanently allocated to needy families in the area.”