Slow progress on a scheme to install household central heating systems in the district with Barnsley’s highest winter death rate among the elderly is being challenged by councillors – amid concerns the delay could lead to further fatalities as cold weather sets in this year.
Woolley Colliery Village was identified for work to install central heating to homes using funding from the first round of grants made available through the National Grid, because it both falls within the Darton area which has been identified as having the town’s worst winter death rate among those aged over 80 and also lacks modern heating, because it was a pit community where homes were, and remain, coal fired.
But a meeting of the North Area Council, made of of councillors who represent that area, was told the National Grid Warm Homes Fund was now on its third round of awards and there had still be no progress in getting central heating installed at Woolley Colliery Village.
Coun Roy Miller told the meeting: “We were told we have the highest death rate for the over 80s in the borough and a lot of that is down to coldness.
“In Woolley Colliery Village, I thought we had agreed for it to get some attention rather quickly, to prevent deaths.
“We have another winter coming around and nothing will have been done. I would have expected some consultation, at least. We need to get a move on,” he said.
Coun Sharon Howard added: “There are only two streets in Woolley Colliery Village, but they are still coal fired.
“Gas has been put into the village, but not connected up to the houses.
“There is real fuel poverty because they don’t have gas. They have to light fires to get hot water, even. It needs to become a priority,” she said.
Councillors agreed to express concern that funding from the first stage of the scheme had yet to be used in the area by the authority’s housing and energy team.