A high turnover of staff, poor communication and delays in repairing older houses are being blamed for setting back the multi-million euro regeneration project in the Southill area.
Amid calls for the work to be accelerated, some locals have claimed that inadequate heating, poor insulation and unsealed windows and doors are leading to health problems for some Southill residents.
Public Service Network representative, Jim Prior, said that there were a number of families within Southill who had “fallen through the cracks” of the regeneration project, which is aimed at bringing all housing up to EU living standards.
Single mother, Joanne Finucane, says she has been waiting for three years to have her windows and doors replaced.
“I have to put Sellotape my windows while I’m fighting to get new ones or even reseal them,” she said.
Her house was earmarked for demolition four years ago. She acknowledges that she was offered a two-bedroom house but said it was unsuitable to accommodate her 18-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.
According to Ms Finucane uncertainty around the demolition programme has meant that this work has been delayed while her family’s health has been affected by the insufficient insulation of her home.
“It is stressing me out completely. I have to wake up every morning wondering what’s going to go wrong with the house today. My son’s asthma is worsening due to the dampness in the house. My daughter burned her hand as a child, sometimes she wakes up crying at night and her hand is blue from the cold,” she said.
Widower, Mary McNamara (73), is a homeowner who was rehoused as part of the demolition project.
Mrs McNamara was told that she would have her windows and doors sealed, an extractor fan fitted in her kitchen and electrical problems in the house looked at.
A Limerick city and county council spokesperson stated, “All houses, both private and council owned, that have been identified for retention in the LRFIP, benefit from inclusion in the thermal upgrade programme. Works are carried out to houses under this programme in order to improve the thermal efficiency of the house.”
According to Jim Prior, some locals in the Southill community are “disappointed” with the slow progress of the regeneration programme especially the physical regeneration.
“There have been issues with some families who haven’t got a fair crack at the whip,” said Mr Prior.
“I think the idea around renovation of the houses is making sure houses were brought up to the standard of the new houses whether you owned the house or not. It would be sinful to have brand new houses here and houses that are falling down next to it,” he added.
When asked about the problems facing some families in Southill former Minister for Housing, Jan O’ Sullivan, said, “I think that’s very disappointing if people in the area feel that nothing has been done for them because there has been significant money allocated and it was for specific purposes.”
Ms Finucane and Mrs McNamara, along with other residents in the area claimed they feel that nobody is taking responsibility for the problems they have presented to Limerick City Council. They claim that ‘”frequent changes to staff” within the council delayed work being carried out.
Moyross parish priest, Father Tony O’Riordan, believes the regeneration project has been affected by the turnover of staff.
“There’s been a huge turnover in personnel and that’s affected the project too I think,” he said.
According to Deputy O’Sullivan any lack of communication between the council and residents is “unacceptable.”
“If communication is breaking down, they need to do something about that and ensure that the residents do feel like they’re getting answers and the answers are correct,” she said.
According to the local authority, the past number of years has seen major change in the way that services are delivered by the local authority, following the merger of the two councils and the restructuring of local government.
“The staff in Limerick City and County council work diligently to provide the best service to people locally and deal with matters as expeditiously as possible,” a spokesman said.