Last week I was invited to Parkdale House at Dunmurry by Jonathan Craig MLA and residents to see the problems faced by the folk who are living there.
I posted about that on Friday and since then a number of similar situations with other tower blocks have been brought to my attention.
In the case of one tower block in Newtownabbey it seems that residents were promised remedial work more than ten years ago but that it never took place. This is something that I was also told by the residents of Parkdale - work was promised and then cancelled.
The problem of mould growing on the interior of external walls, which is one of the problems at Parkdale, exists elsewhere as well. This is clearly a health and safety issue as this can cause chest complaints for residents or indeed exacerbate them.
There are a number of questions that I have put to the Housing Executive as a result of the visit to Parkdale and I plan to meet with NIHE officials either this week or early next week.
There is a pilot scheme for major works at Cuchulainn House in the New Lodge and this will involve external cladding to reduce heat loss but I am told that it will take a year to complete this work, a year to assess its effectiveness and then consideration will be given to carrying out such works elsewhere.
On that basis some residents will have to put up with these problems for quite a number of years. However if work had started some years ago, when the problems were first identified, any programme of works would already be well underway.
It is becoming increasingly clear that for more than a decade the NIHE has not devoted enough resources to maintenance work. Since coming in to DSD I have pressed the NIHE on this and hence the programme to install double glazing in all NIHE properties by 2015 and the pilot to fit external cladding on single-skin properties which have no cavity in the wall and hence no cavity wall insulation.
This is something that I will post about again as the full picture on the tower blocks emerges.