At September’s Louth County Council Meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough welcomed the inspection of multi-storey buildings by the Fire and Emergency Services. Buildings of seven storeys and over have been inspected following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London with additional fire safety assessments requested of external wall cladding.
Cllr McGeough said “the Fire Prevention section has also requested fire safety assessments of all two storey properties owned by Housing Agencies where council tenants are accommodated and I welcome that. The Fire Prevention Section has also contacted management companies or owners of all buildings in Louth where Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenants are living.”
Cllr McGeough raised the issue of private tenants and private landlords. “I asked if their properties were being inspected but was told that is the responsibility of the landlords themselves. I would now urge all landlords to check their properties periodically and ensure there are fire safety precautions in place. With an average of 60-70 house fires a year we need to be doing everything we can to avoid tragedies.”
Pearse McGeough went on to explain that “there are basic things you can ensure the property has: Smoke detectors, heat detectors and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors. The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 requires every house to have a fire blanket and a mains wired smoke alarm or two 10 year self-contained battery operated alarms. These are a few basics that can be done but could be enough to save a life or prevent extensive damage to a property.”
At the end of last year, Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough welcomed the opening of the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme (HAGS) for 2017. Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly.
Each year, the scheme opened, was flooded with applications and then closed again after a few short weeks. However, this year saw an extension to the submission period with the Scheme remaining open all year round.
Although welcoming the extension at the time, Cllr McGeough has since been left frustrated with the long periods of waiting time some of his constituents have been facing for these adaptations to take place.
He said “I have a lady who is in her late 80’s who made a submission for a small but essential adaptation to her bathroom in 2016. She was marked ‘Priority 1’ which is categorising her as ‘urgent’. 2016 has gone, 2017 applications are in and this lady has now been informed that her work should be carried out in 2018.”
“I raised it at the Ardee Municipal meeting and I reiterated my call at the Louth County Council this week, to apply to the Department for extra funding for this Scheme as there is not enough to meet the needs of Priority 1 cases and that is unacceptable. The Council have agreed to do so.”
“There is no point in opening the Scheme all year round, processing and passing applications only to leave them sitting in a pile somewhere because there is no budget to carry out the works.”
“The applications for this particular Scheme are from some of the most vulnerable in our community. The scheme is intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs. This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home. These adaptations need to be carried out in a timely manner and waiting two years is wholly unacceptable by anyone’s standards.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has welcomed the decision for two estates in Castlebellingham to be ‘taken in charge’.
At last week’s Ardee Municipal Meeting it was agreed that Bellingham Green and Bellingham Close would be taken over by the local authority.
Cllr McGeough said “Now that Louth County Council have taken the estates in charge, home owners and residents can now access all the services and protections that their taxes pay for. I know of one estate that in 2014 had its street lights turned off because the developer in cahrge of the estate hadn’t paid its electricity bills. Having your estate ‘taken in charge’ is advantageous to the home-owner.”
At this month’s meeting of Ardee Municipal Council Cllr Pearse McGeough reminded those present of a motion that he tabled a number of years ago.
Cllr McGeough said “we held the meeting in Collon and I reminded the Council that I had called for the provision of traffic lights at the junction of Drogheda Road, the Kells Road and the N2 in the town.”
“These lights would improve safety for all road users in Collon, vehicular traffic and pedestrians alike.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has called on parents and residents to get behind the setting up of a youth club in Castlebellingham. A meeting will take place on Thursday evening at 7:00pm at O’Connell’s GFC in Castlebellingham to discuss this.
Cllr McGeough said “A youth club can provide a safe environment that will give parents peace of mind knowing their children are not hanging around the streets. They provide a valuable service to any community which complements the school and home environments. Let’s get our young people off their tablets and phones, get them off the streets and into a positive environment where they can learn to socialise with new people and become a valuable part of the wider community. Let’s give them an alternative, a safe place to go.”
“I would urge as many as possible to attend the meeting on Thursday evening in O’Connells GFC. This is your community, you have a vested interest.”