Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Local Authority Housing Standards
166. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the serious failures by the local authority on an estate (details supplied) in County Wicklow as revealed by a 2007 fire and safety audit which the local authority conducted; if his attention has been drawn to the upgrades being made by the local authority to all local authority owned properties on the estate but have refused to do so for privately owned properties and will not provide details of the 2007 report to residents; if this matter has been previously raised with him, highlighting the disparity between public and privately owned homes in the estate; if the 2007 fire and safety audit has ever been provided to him, his predecessors or his Department officials; if he will release this audit into the public domain which highlights the dangerous building materials and electrical problems that have culminated in fires claiming several peoples lives since the estate was built in 1972 as temporary housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54734/13]
The Oldcourt Estate in Bray was built by Wicklow County Counc il in 1972 in accordance with the building standards which obtained at that time. A refurbishment programme carried by Wicklow County was completed in 1988.
Following a number of fires in the Oldcourt Estate which resulted in fatalities , Wicklow County Council engage d consultants to carry out a condition survey of houses in the estate and to report on structural condition s including matters relating to fire safety. Wicklow County Council has advised that the cause of the fires was not attributable to the condition of the houses. While a copy of the report was received in my Department, I understand that details were not released to publicly as the report refers to specific properties where deficiencies were observed. I also understand that the non-disclosure of the details contained in the report is currently the subject of an appeal under the Freedom of Information process.
On 29 November, 2007, Bray Town Council advised my Department that, following the carrying out of the house survey , a report was compiled which recommended that certain improvement works were required to houses in Oldcourt Estate. On 12 December 2007, my Department advised the Council that proposals for the works should be advanced as a matter of urgency and included in the Council’s improvement works programme for 2008 and funded out of Internal Capital Receipts (ICR’s) .
Following discussions between my Department and Bray Town Council, approval issued in July 2012 for a range of improvement and retrofitting works to local authority owned houses in the Oldcourt Estate. It was agreed that a suite of remedial works to include energy enhancements and fire safety improvements would be undertaken by Bray Town Council and funded out of ICR’s. Due to constraints on the available ICR’s, my Department subsequently agreed to assist with funding and to date almost €650,000 has been recouped to the Council . I understand that remedial works are continuing and that retrofitting work s been completed on almost half of the homes at this time . I also understand that the Council have no proposals to undertake remedial works to privately owned houses in the estate.