Belfast Telegraph

Economy 7-related illness is increasing say residents

by Natalie Gorman

More east Belfast residents have complained they are “freezing and falling ill” as a result of Economy 7 heating systems.

Following our story last week in which a local family described the daily hardships they endure with Ecomomy 7, a group of residents from the Braniel estate contacted the Community Telegraph to lambast the Northern Ireland Housing Executive home heating arrangements.

Roy McMullen, from the Creevy Avenue area, said: “At the moment I’m spending £50 a week on heating my home and it’s still freezing in many rooms, and I have problems with the damp too as a result.

“The heating situation is just terrible, when there is warmth it’s a really dry heat that affects my asthma. My doctors tells me the dry heat is not helping my condition at all.

“The Housing Executive is showing no headway to resolve the system in these homes — if we were given the choice I would have asked for a new heating system to be installed rather than the new kitchen we got a few years ago. My neighbours have told me the same — and I know there are residents living in Marfield Drive going through the same ordeal.”

Lisa Crossin, who lives in the Warren Grove area and has two children under the age of four, said: “The damp in our home is unbearable and I am in and out of the doctors as my young children suffer chest infection after chest infection.

“When we first moved into this flat, my youngest who was only a few weeks old at the time, developed eczema within the first month of moving in. I feel it’s the damp and dry heat in the house that triggered it. I constantly bathe him in special oils the doctor has given me, but nothing seems to work. The Economy 7 heating system in the home is useless and costs a fortune.

“The Housing Executive have agreed to put me on the housing transfer list because of all of this, but they can’t tell me how long I will have to wait.”

Last week, east Belfast GP and PUP councillor Dr John Kyle said a number of people had presented themselves at his surgery with infections as a direct result of the systems.

He accused the Housing Executive of “making a mistake” when it replaced kitchens in its houses a number of years ago instead of addressing the heating issues. He said: “Cold and damp conditions give rise to lots of infections; chest infection, respiratory problems and all sorts of infections. It also affects young children.”

A NIHE spokesperson said: “We are committed to continuing to replace electrical heating systems, but this is dependant on finance being available.

“If these particular tenants feel they are suffering health problems or have difficulty in managing their heating systems they should contact our local District Office for advice.”

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