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Housing repairs delayed as Doncaster workmen deal with surge of winter emergencies

Snow at Denaby, Doncaster, last week
Snow at Denaby, Doncaster, last week
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Officials in charge of Doncaster's council houses have had to postpone non-urgent repairs to deal with a surge of emergency calls due to burst pipes and broken boilers

Bosses at St Leger Homes have told how they faced a major surge in emergency calls as the borough was put in the grip of snow and ice as temperatures plunged last week.

In total, an additional 335 emergency repair call outs were arranged between Wednesday February 28 and Saturday March 4. Of those calls, 161 related to loss of gas or boiler problems and 70 related to plumbing, including burst pipes and frozen pipes.

A spokesman said as a result of targeting support during the period of severe weather, some non-urgent repairs had to be rescheduled.

All emergency repairs calls, particularly where there was a loss of heating or loss of water, were responded to and resolved. Overall there were 1,750 calls to Technical Support Centre over the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Chief executive of St Leger Homes, Paul Tanney, said: “We want to thank our staff for their hard work last week ensuring that we were able to meet all emergency repair needs during the severe weather, as well as putting in place additional accommodation to ensure anyone sleeping rough could be offered a place to stay overnight. Their determination to get into work and make a difference for vulnerable people in the local community was great to see in the face of such adverse weather conditions.

“We coped much better than we did during the Big Freeze in 2010. Partly that was down to our emergency planning ahead of the cold weather which meant extra trades staff were made available for repair call outs and emergencies being prioritised over non-emergency scheduled repairs – and extra beds being allocated for rough sleepers. But it was also down to working hard with tenants to ensure they were aware of tips to cope with cold temperatures in winter – for example, only a handful of our call outs related to burst pipes or frozen pipes.

“We are concerned about the rough sleepers who ultimately refused accommodation – we will be continuing to work with our partners in the Complex Lives Alliance to ensure these individuals still continue to get the support they need.

“We appreciate the patience of our tenants where non-emergency repair appointments have had to be rescheduled, we hope they will understand that the many cases of people being without any gas or water in their properties had to be our priority given the challenging conditions.

“We’d like to remind people that we now offer private gas boiler servicing for non-tenants, at a relatively small cost. We always put our customers first. If you want to take us up on this offer, please call us on 01303 862 862 or visit www.stlegerhomes.co.uk. Even in the toughest conditions, we offer a 24 hour repairs service, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

St Leger Homes also provides homelessness provision on behalf of Doncaster Council and manages the Severe Weather Emergency Plan (SWEP) which has been in place since January.It also worked with the Doncaster Council Complex Lives outreach team during the severe cold weather and made additional temporary accommodation available at short notice in order to provide shelter for vulnerable people identified by the team. The homelessness teams offered 37 people accommodation or helped negotiate a return to a previous home.

All those with a history of sleeping rough that engaged with outreach workers or directly accessed the service were made an offer of accommodation.