Northern Ireland news

Concerns raised about north Belfast housing scheme

Carrick Hill resident Lynn Atcheson. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

A sub-contractor which carried out work as part of a controversial Housing Executive refurbishment scheme has had its contract terminated.

The housing body confirmed that its main contractor on the north Belfast scheme, Tyrone-based QMAC Construction, has terminated its arrangement with a subcontractor.

The housing body said QMAC “employed the subcontractor directly for this scheme”.

"The Housing Executive has been advised that QMAC have terminated their contract with their sub-contractor."

Dozens of complaints have been made by Housing Executive tenants in north Belfast about work carried out as part the scheme.

A spokesman for the executive last night said it is taking the “matter very seriously”.

Bathrooms and kitchens are being replaced in hundreds of homes across the district.

Local resident Lynn Atcheson last night claimed that the Housing Executive has failed to act on complaints about quality of work more than five months after they were first made.

Her complaints range from poor paint work to the smell of urine in an upstairs bathroom.

The 34-year-old, who suffers from anxiety and depression, said the condition of her bathroom raises her anxiety levels.

North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon said she has raised the matter with the executive's chief executive Clark Bailie.

“People deserve better than this,” she said.

“Who is going to be held accountable for it?”

“We want action here and redress for tenants because they have been through a horrendous ordeal.”

Frank Dempsey from Carrick Hill Residents' Association said local people deserve answers and urgent action is required by the Housing Executive.

“It's a complete nightmare for the residents,” he said.

A spokesman for the Housing Executive it “takes this matter very seriously and each one of these complaints has been investigated by our technical staff and this poor performance has been formally highlighted to the contractor through the appropriate contractual mechanisms.

“We have also met with residents and discussed the issues with local representatives.”

Asked if the executive is paying the cost of any damage, the spokesman said: “The Housing Executive will use the appropriate legal channels for any potential issues of any costs or liability for any damage.”

QMAC was contacted but did not respond.

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