Executive ‘too rash over gas switch offs’

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Housing Executive contractors have been accused of being too rash in turning off people’s gas.

The accusation follows a story in last week’s ‘MAIL’ when we revealed how an elderly cancer sufferer had her gas cut off by accident.

DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart who has dealt with several of these incidents over the past few weeks has said the NIHE’s contractors have been too rash in turning off gas to homes where some of the most vulnerable live.

Councilllor Lockhart said: “I have been contacted on at least five occasions by elderly people who have experienced this problem.

“It is not right of the NIHE to turn people’s gas off particularly in the heart of winter and over the weekend period when they do not have a sufficient emergency contract to reinstate it.

“I believe given the day we live in there are many ways of getting in touch with people to ensure that the correct service of their gas provision is carried out and there is no need for a rash approach in capping gas.

“NIHE need to re-think the way they do this and I would also call on them to ensure that sufficient resources are deployed in this winter period to deal with heating emergencies.

“I would also call on them to work with their heating contractors to look at a more efficient way of gaining access for servicing purposes. It is unacceptable to just turn people’s only source of heating off.”

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive explained: “Any tenant who does not allow an annual safety check of gas boilers is in danger of having their supply cut off.

“As a landlord, we have a legal obligation to carry out the annual gas safety check. Failure to allow this service will result in gas capping, a disconnection of the service.”

Households will receive a letter informing them of a date for the service check, which they can change if it is unsuitable.

Housing Executive say if there is no response, the tenant will be issued with a ‘no access’ card, which informs them of the need to make contact with the contractor and warns that the gas supply will be cut off if they do not comply.

This will be followed up with a hand delivered letter, again requesting contact is made within seven days.

If, at that stage, there is still no response the supply will be disconnected until the required safety checks are carried out.

Tenants will be issued with a notice informing them they must make contact with the Housing Executive in order to get the supply reconnected.