It was just over four years ago that the Salford Star first brought to light the NIBE 'environmental system' installed in the Pendleton blocks of flats that was a "potential fuel poverty nightmare waiting to happen" (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
This was followed up by more articles online and a huge spread in the Salford Star print issue in 2015* with even more articles following that, and a huge public meeting in the Broadwalk church. The issue was also brought up at the very first meeting of the Salford Poverty Truth Commission a year later, where the guest speaker was Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett (see here).
Since then the Salford NIBE system, which was supposed to solve fuel poverty by vastly reducing heating bills, has been covered by Angela Rippon's Rip Off Britain and various other media outlets. Incredibly, the issue is still ongoing.
Last week, Malus Court resident, Sam, told the Salford Star "When I first moved in I did a lot of research on it and realised straight away that this thing does not work. I watch how much energy I use all the time and write it down every day. I checked every single appliance and the NIBE on its own was using twenty units a day with temperatures outside of 15 degrees. There was nothing else on in the flat as I was just moving in. One unit per day is £5 a month on your bill, that's £100 a month...
"...So I turned it off, but left the memory on and found out it's one unit a day just for that switch, or £5 on your bill" she added "I've had them out a dozen times, they tried everything and it's still the same. It's like having the immersion heater on all day. The problem is that there's two different types of NIBE; one's an exhaust pump and one's an air pump. One works efficiently, one of them doesn't...and most of them have the wrong one."
Glynn also told the Star that he and others in the block could only afford to have the NIBE operating for 45 minutes per day...Yet, despite a deluge of tenants coming forward, the NIBEs are still in place.
Last night, at Salford City Council's Growth and Prosperity Scrutiny Panel on Tower Block Safety, a representative of Fuel Action Poverty told Deputy Mayor, John Merry, and the panel of councillors that someone could possibly die from cold, especially with the cladding and insulation problems adding to the mix...
"We're really concerned about what is happening in Salford and I've come up from London because it is so serious" she said "When people have heating problems, especially when at the same time they don't have cladding and insulation on their blocks, it can actually be lethal and cause all sort of health problems as well.
"People die from fuel poverty and the issues we've been hearing about here are absolutely appalling" she added "People are afraid to put the heating on at all. It is a matter of national concern."
A resident of the blocks also told the councillors "The NIBE systems are faulty, we cannot afford to put them on and we freeze in winter..."
A further statement and question on the NIBEs was blocked by the chair... "It's not for this meeting" she said.
After the cladding was stripped from the first three floors of the blocks, Pendleton Together kept the insulation on the sides of the buildings, with no protection from the rain, and then added cement board cladding. There's no assurance that the insulation will work with the NIBEs this winter, adding to the ongoing problems.
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor, John Merry responded with an invitation to meet him to discuss the issue further. That's four years after the NIBE concerns were first raised...
This is Part 2 of a two part article on the Scrutiny panel meeting last night. See Part 1 – Why Has Salford Council Not Released Safety Report on Tower Blocks – click here.
Fuel Poverty Action, under the strapline 'After Grenfell – Tens of thousands at risk from fire and cold' is joining a demonstration on Wednesday 17th October at 1pm outside the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in London, as part of the campaign for Safe Cladding and Insulation. For further details see www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk
* For the electronic print issue of Salford Star featuring the NIBEs – click here
See also Salford Star article: Exposed Insulation Could Impact Fire Integrity – click here
Salford Tower Block Insulation Left Out in the Rain Despite Government Advice – click here