Window replacement scheme delays

A Norwich MP is calling for answers over the city's delayed window replacement scheme.

Norwich City Council aims to replace all of the windows in its council houses with double glazing by the end of next year.

But the scheme has been hit by delays following the collapse of contractor Connaught and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said she had been contacted by many concerned tenants.

Today Norwich City Council said it was working hard to keep tenants informed about the replacement scheme, which, it admitted, was experiencing 'short delays'.

Miss Smith said: 'It's important to make sure that in the winter months repairs, such as windows, are done when they are supposed to be done.

'It's no use having broken promises about windows and it can be particularly difficult for people in troubling circumstances, as in cold conditions it comes down to a question of being able to afford to heat homes. The least that people can expect is that they will be given a date and then that it will be stuck to.'

Live-in carer Roy Holland is worried about the health of 83-year-old Hazel Higgs, who lives in Gresham Road in Mile Cross, if she spends another freezing winter without double glazing.

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Mrs Higgs has emphysema, a lung condition, and Mr Holland fears the pensioner's recurring chest infections are partly down to the draughts and damp conditions at her home.

Mr Holland, who is 65 and has arthritis, said: 'Where the windows were rotten at the back of the house they have put in new PVC ones which are double-glazed. But the ones at the front are original windows and must be more than 70 years old.

'Last year Mrs Higgs' bedroom had ice all over the window sills inside where the water had frozen. At her age and with the complaints she has got she should not be living in these conditions.'

Mr Holland, who estimates that heating the house is costing them �30 every week, said they had received a letter stating the windows at the would be replaced in September, which was then put back to next month, after Connaught took over the contract.

Connaught's subsequent collapse means the scheme is now being handled by an interim contractor, and Mr Holland said they had been told the windows could be replaced in 2011 or 2012.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: 'The window replacement programme is a priority to the council and this is why we accelerated it by seven years and sought extra funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to help part fund this.

'Unfortunately the situation we have faced with our main contractor going into administration means that there are short delays to our programmes for maintenance and upgrades.

'We would like to assure our tenants that this work will be carried out as soon as is possible.'