Belfast Telegraph

GP slams heating systems as family ‘freezes’ in own home

by Chris McCann

A leading east Belfast GP has broadsided the Housing Executive over Economy 7 heating systems that are leaving families “freezing” in their homes.

Dr John Kyle — also a member of the Progressive Unionist Party — said a number of people had presented themselves at his surgery with infections as a direct result of the systems.

The GP accused the Executive of “making a mistake” when it replaced kitchens in its houses a number of years ago instead of addressing the heating matter.

Mr Kyle’s criticism comes as the Community Telegraph visited one young family in Knockwood Park — off the Castlereagh Road — who were living in one bedroom with hot water bottles to keep warm, as their wallpaper peeled around them due to the damp conditions.

Kyla Brown and Michael Higginson, who live with their three-year-old daughter, Sophie — who suffers from eczema — say they have complained to the Executive about their living conditions.

Dr Kyle said living in such conditions gives rise to a number of medical conditions. “Cold and damp conditions give rise to lots of infections; chest infection, respiratory problems and all sorts of infections. It also affects young children,” he said.

Dr Kyle attacked ‘Economy’ 7, a system which is forcing the couple to fork out an extra £50 from their income for electric to heat the home with heaters.

“It’s costing Kyla and Michael a fortune to heat their home. Economy 7 has been terribly badly named as it’s anything but economic.”

Kyla explained exactly what it’s like living with the heating system: “It’s cold, it’s freezing,” she said.

“We’re up at 6.30-7.00am, as Sophie is up at that time, but you would swear blind that there was no heating on at all.

“We have three heaters on all day to take the chill out of the air, but it just doesn’t work.

“Sophie can’t even stay in her own bedroom. We’re all in the one room with an oil-filled heater, an electric blanket and two water bottles.

“You can’t sit in your pyjamas and watch television even.

“I would like to see this heating system changed, everywhere is freezing.”

A Housing Executive spokesperson said on the family’s plight: “The Housing Executive has been in contact with Ms Brown about her heating.

“We recently received a medical report regarding a member of the family and are arranging to carry out an assessment of their needs which will include the possible upgrading of the heating system.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph