By Bill Heaney
Condensation. That’s the name of the game. And (almost) every local council plays it the same. Or did up to now.
At last West Dunbartonshire Council have agreed to ditch the big C-word and use a four-letter D-word to address a vexatious housing problem that’s been with us since after the Second World War.
That word is DAMP which local authority housing officials have scrupulously avoided mentioning, shunned and strenuously denied exists in Dumbarton for years. See picture above.
Now, at last, thanks to the new Labour administration’s housing committee, council houses in West Dunbartonshire will be fitted with sensors as part of a drive to detect and eradicate damp and mould.
Going on past experience however, it’s a drive that is unlikely to succeed, and many people will see this as good money being thrown after bad.
A council officer tells us that the technology will initially be put in approximately 2000 properties, including sheltered housing, multi storeys and priority properties who have existing damp or mould.
The £10 million project – no wonder we are paying through the nose for council tax when projects like this with no guarantee of success will be rolled out over the next five years.
Other actions being taken include a revised process for dealing with concerns about damp and mould in properties, which will see dampness inspections carried out a maximum of two days after an issue is raised.
Housing convener Gurpreet Singh Johal with Labour leader Anas Sarwar and West End councillor David McBride, where dampness has been a recurring problem for many years.
That’s a tall order for the housing convener, Councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal, whose success at the polls in the West End of Dumbarton has been welcomed to the council with the housing convenership, traditionally looked upon by elected members as a hospital pass.
The spin doctors have announced: “Any repairs required following inspection will be categorised as urgent and carried out within 10 days, with follow up visits to determine whether the household has additional support needs including financial assistance.”
I fear Councillor Singh Johal is going to have lots of queues at his surgeries and his telephone is almost certain to be red hot with complaints if the projected time schedules fall behind.
The Council have told The Democrat: “A proactive, customer focused approach will ensure that information on the personal circumstances of each household is available and is taken into account when solutions are determined.
“After repairs have been completed, a further inspection will be undertaken within 60 days to ensure no further action is required.
“The approach comes as part of a commitment to address damp and mould issues across the authority agreed at a council meeting in March.”
Commenting through an official spokesperson, Councillor Singh Johal, Convener of Housing and Communities said: “None of our tenants should be living in a home that is affected by damp or mould and these new sensors will allow us to access information on the fabric of each home easily so we can
take action quickly to resolve.
“I’m also very pleased that our approach does not just place emphasis how bad [the] damp and mould might be, but also looks at personal circumstances of the tenant, before providing the best solution for each case.”
Councillor Hazel Sorrell, Vice Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “I am extremely happy to see the work and [the] thought that has gone into ensuring mould and damp is treated quickly and effectively.
“I thank all officers involved for acting swiftly to introduce this new approach, and I hope this provides our tenants with some reassurance that this issue is being treated seriously.”
A mix of high flats and houses in Levenvale and, top of the page, the high flats at West Bridgend in Dumbarton.