Limerick council houses to be retro-fitted ahead of winter

Gerard Fitzgibbon


Gerard Fitzgibbon

A NEW joint public-private venture will see insulation and energy efficiency works carried out in council houses across West Limerick.

A NEW joint public-private venture will see insulation and energy efficiency works carried out in council houses across West Limerick.

Limerick County Council has announced new joint schemes with Airtricity, Kingspan and the Southill Development co-operative for retro-fitting of houses in both the Newcastle West and Rathkeale administrative areas.

The schemes will see better insulation, electricity and heating systems installed in houses which are currently occupied by tenants. The project follows on from an initial scheme in 2011, which saw the county council spend €2.2 million on refurbishing vacant properties in a bid to bring them back into occupancy.

In the Newcastle West area, houses are to be re-fitted in Hillside Drive and Markiewicz Drive in Athea, New Houses in Tournafulla, Rooskagh Court and St Mary’s Terrace in Carrigkerry and Collins Park in Abbeyfeale.

In the Rathkeale area, work will take place on council-owned houses in Glin, Askeaton, Ballingarry, Rathkeale town, Ballyhahill, Pallaskenry and Foynes.

The funding has been welcomed by Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan, who said that “these works are of great importance, as we are heading into autumn and heating costs will be increasing. This is a very welcome announcement of funds”.

Dan Neville TD said that work on the selected houses is scheduled to begin in mid November, and that the people affected will be notified shortly.

“The tenants of the houses in these estates will be informed that detail surveys of their houses will be carried out in the next week, and that works will commence almost immediately as funding has to be spent by mid-November 2012”.

The joint public-private model of this latest scheme allows the council’s housing department to press on with long-prioritised insulation works in its houses, despite significant cuts to its own resources.

In 2011, the county council spent €3.6 million on maintaining and refurbishing its housing stock, more than a quarter of its total housing spend of €11.96 million.

This year, the council’s draft budget included provision for just over €3 million for maintenance and improvement of housing stock, including specialist traveller accommodation.

However, like all other administrative departments housing has had to work around mid-calendar cuts to central funding.

In its 2012 budget, Limerick County Council was allocated a general purpose grant of €17.6 million from the local government fund. The Government introduced the household charge in order to reduce the exchequer contribution to the fund, however a lower than anticipated level of household charge payments caused grants from the fund to local authorities to be reduced mid-year, with a knock-on effect on service provision.