South Shields mum calls for home insulation ahead of winter months

Melanie Barnes is angry over loft space and expensive utility bills through lack of insulation.
Melanie Barnes is angry over loft space and expensive utility bills through lack of insulation.

A mother fears she will be hit with more high energy bills this winter after her plea to housing chiefs to improve the insulation above her home have been ignored.

Melanie Barnes owns an upstairs flat in River Drive, in South Shields,but says she is unable to have insulation fitted in the loft space as it belongs to South Tyneside Homes.

She claims it has left her and 12-year-old daughter feeling the cold - and paying hefty heating bills averaging £180 a month in winter.

Ms Barnes, who moved into the property five years ago, says she believes there had been some concerns over the roof structure but has been unable to find out why insulation was removed but not been replaced.

South Tyneside Homes say the material was removed last winter and work is due to start soon on the roof - after which, new insulation will be installed.

Melanie said: “It’s so frustrating. I own my flat, but I don’t own the loft space above it. I have contacted the council to try and have insulation put back, but I just feel I’m being ignored.

“This has been going on for the best part of a year now but I’m no further forward.”

She added: “Because it belongs to the council, I can’t have anyone in to do it for me. In the meantime it is costing me a lot of money in heating bills - sometimes it’s £180 a month in the winter.

“We live right next to the river and the temperatures drop significantly over the winter months.

“I am aware of policy and procedures but this was raised as an issue last year. Yet here we are again facing another winter and still nothing has been done.

“We saw them taking insulation out of the loft but that hasn’t been replaced. All they told us was they were checking for structural damage.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Homes said: “The loft insulation was stripped out during November and December 2016 as we had concerns about the roof of the building.

“Removing the insulation was necessary to gain access to and monitor the roof tresses.

“Tenants and leaseholders were informed of the work and members of South Tyneside Homes’ staff were on site to answer any questions. We have received no complaints from Ms Barnes regarding the loft insulation until last week.

“Following investigations into the condition of the roof, we have identified that it is necessary to carry out strengthening work, which is due to start this month and will be completed before Christmas. New insulation will then be installed.

“We have advised Ms Barnes and other tenants that they will be compensated for higher heating bills, subject to providing evidence of higher costs. Following the reinstallation of insulation, residents should have reduced energy bills.”