The daughter of a 77-year old woman has blamed the Housing Executive for leaving her mother out in the cold for a week.
Lorraine Semple claims that pensioner Valerie Semple, who suffers from osteoporosis, was without heat in her river Mews home and warned not to light her glass fronted fire because of a blockage in her chimney - only to find out a week later that there was no such blockage and she was left in the cold unnecessarily.
After an annual check to her home last Monday contract workers for the Executive told Mrs Semple that she would not be allowed to use her fire because her chimney was blocked.
They told her there was an 18 inch blockage and it would be unsafe to light her fire.
Mrs Semple assured them that the chimney had just been cleaned prior to the check up and was confused that she had indeed a blockage.
They left a sign warning her not to use the chimney or light the fire.
Before leaving they asked her if she had any heaters and thankfully she had one old fashioned coal burning heater.
On Tuesday Mrs Semple went to the Housing Executive office but they had no record of a report made and after another visit on Friday she was still none the wiser. She was told that the chimney was condemned and would have to be torn down and that workers would visit her home on Saturday.
In the meantime she was given two fan heaters but told that they ‘eat the electricity’.
However, she waited in all day Saturday but still no workmen arrived.
“My mother was really upset and on Friday was crying and telling me that she was really cold,” Lorraine said. “It was totally heart breaking. I was so annoyed I had tried several times to get answers from the Housing Executive but was none the wiser.
“We were told that the chimney was condemned and would have to be knocked down. They had it down as an emergency and classed as urgent.
“My mum had been sitting from Monday with no heat. When she was given two fan heaters she was told that the heaters burn the electricity so obviously she was afraid to use them. I was really miffed. How would they like it if it was their mother sitting in a cold house and unable to use the fire? She was just left sitting.
“She was not only left a weekend but an entire week with no heating. Her house was totally freezing.”
When the Housing Executive contractors came they found that her chimney was indeed fine and after several phone calls to base she was finally allowed to light the fire.
“This has caused my mother and me considerable distress,” said Ms Shirlow.
“It is totally scandalous. I cannot get my head around it. When workers finally came - they told us that they had no jobs on Saturday and when they went to investigate the chimney they said that they could see right down the chimney and there was no blockage.”
Despite being given the all clear by the workers they still had to wait up to five hours before they were given the go ahead from the Housing Executive.
“My mother had me but what would happen to old people if they had no family to help them,” said Lorraine. “My mother had to go through all this anxiety with no heat for a week for nothing. She now has a cold.”
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “The Housing Executive undertook a planned service at the home at River Mews on September 23.
“The flue did not pass the test therefore as a precautionary measure the tenant was advised not to use the fire. A subsequent visit was scheduled where a sweep and core-ball test was conducted and the flue is now clear.”