Watchdog hits out at council

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SHEFFIELD Council has been criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman for its response to two complaints about housing repairs – including a case in which a tenant waited eight months for a gas service.

When the task was completed, a gas safety certificate was issued despite the flue being unsafe, the ombudsman found.

In her report, the ombudsman said the tenant, who has not been named, made three appointments for the annual gas service to be carried out, none of which were kept by the council’s contractor.

The service was finally carried out eight months after the due date and only once the occupant had consulted a solicitor and threatened the council with legal action.

He became suspicious when a worker called to replace a radiator and asked for access to the flue.

The council admitted the flue needed replacing but the problem was not recorded on the safety certificate.

The tenant called in an independent gas inspector who issued a warning notice about his system and informed the council’s contractor that its work had not complied with safety standards.

Sheffield Council was also criticised over its treatment of a person who had bought a flat under the right to buy scheme. The transaction was delayed while repairs were supposed to be carried out to the roof but as soon as the resident had completed the purchase, it began to leak.

The leaseholder tried to claim on his insurance for the damage but the council sent him an engineers’ report about a different roof and his claim was rejected.

In her annual review of complaints against Sheffield Council, ombudsman Anne Seex said both cases were ‘issues of concern’. She added that the authority was slow to answer her queries.

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