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Issue:- 22 November  2012

Tenants warned to allow gas safety checks

TENANTS who refuse to allow essential safety checks to be carried out in their homes have been warned that court action will be taken against them.

The warning comes following the refusal of a tenant of a house in Kirkdale to allow gas engineers to carry out checks on appliances until a court warrant was issued.

This is an example of how Liverpool's groundbreaking Healthy Homes Programme is helping landlords ensure safety at their properties.

Landlords have a legal duty to carry out annual gas safely checks of appliances and installations, and to provide a record of this check to their tenants.

Unfortunately however, some tenants don't co-operate with the landlord and won't allow access for this important safety check. Landlords have raised this concern with Healthy Homes, who are tasked with improving health through improving housing conditions.

An innovative system has been developed to take advantage of Council enforcement powers.

The new procedure provides the tenant with a number of opportunities to co-operate and allow a Gas Safe registered engineer to visit. However, as a last resort where access continues to be denied, environmental health officers from the Healthy Homes team can apply to the courts for a warrant to access. This procedure allows a more rapid solution than landlords having to apply for a warrant themselves.

If a warrant is granted entry can be made by force if necessary ensuring that this key safety check by a registered gas engineer is carried out.

The Council has pioneered this innovative approach with several Registered Providers of social housing.

So far, landlords have approached the team about more than 150 properties where gaining access has not been possible. Following the new system, on all but 2 occasions, when contacted by the Healthy Homes team the tenant has co-operated and a check carried out.

However, an environmental health officer from the team applied to the court for warrants at 2 properties where tenants resisted approaches by the team. The tenant of one of the properties contacted the landlord before the warrant was executed to confirm their change of view, but the warrant for the house in Kirkdale was executed. While the boiler at the property was found to be satisfactory, the cooker was considered dangerous so was disconnected immediately.

The landlord, LHT was very satisfied with the partnership, helping them to comply with health and safety legislation.

Simon Brown, LHT director of asset management said:- "LHT has a legal requirement to carry out annual gas safety checks to all properties.  This project is a real success and only achieved by working in partnership with Liverpool City Council.  We are doing all we can to ensure our tenants remain safe in their homes and we now have access to another tool to ensure we can undertake a gas service to all difficult to access properties."

Councillor Ann O'Byrne, City Council cabinet member for housing said:- "These sorts of intervention show how the Council is helping good landlords meet their legal obligations of providing a healthy and safe home. It also demonstrates that responsibility for safe housing not only rests with the landlord, tenants also have an important part to play in co-operating with the activities of the owner whether it be in carrying out repairs or safety checks. This example reaffirms the importance of annual gas safety checks. Had it not been carried out, use of the dangerous cooking appliance would have continued.  Gas safety checks are vital in reducing risks. Not only can gas leaks cause explosions, but gas appliances such as cookers, fires and boilers burning inefficiently may release carbon monoxide which can't be seen, smelt or tasted. It is a silent killer, but one which can be prevented by regular safety checks. Healthy Homes aims to prevent death and illness due to poor housing conditions and reduce accidents in the home. While there is still a lot of work to do we are making very good progress."

Not for profit organisations urged to bid for funding

ORGANISATIONS which provide essential services to Liverpool's communities are being asked to bid for more than £2million funding from the City Council.

Not for profit voluntary and community organisations can put forward applications for grants from the Community Resources Unit Funding Programme 2013/16, giving funding for groups which provide the following services:-

Community legal advice
Support for victims of domestic violence
Stronger communities
CapaCity building community and voluntary organisations

All applications must support the City Council's vision to develop thriving neighbourhoods, encourage health and wellbeing in communities, make Liverpool's neighbourhoods more attractive and accessible and empower local residents.

Liverpool City Council's cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Councillor Steve Munby, said:- "In these tough economic times, this sort of funding is pivotal in order to continue to support groups which have such a positive impact on neighbourhoods across the City. These not for profit organisations provide essential services which residents rely on; from legal advice provided by a Citizens Advice Bureau to transport to luncheons which elderly people depend on to ensure they feel part of the community.  It will be an extremely difficult task to choose which organisations to fund as all the work these groups do is so worthwhile, but we're confident those who are selected will make a positive difference to the lives of people in Liverpool."

All applications must be received by midday on Friday, 7 December 2012.

The total funding for 2013 is £2,397,750, and for the following years the grants will be reduced in line with the final budget decisions made by the City Council.

In 2012/13 57 groups received funding including:-

►  Liverpool Association of Disabled People – a free, confidential advice service which includes drop-in appointments and home visits for disabled people, their families and carers.

►  HEAT – Liverpool's domestic abuse service which keeps women and their children safe from harm.

►  Merseyside Network for Change – a support service for some of the City's poorest communities.

►  Afro Caribbean and Friends Lunch Club – provides affordable meals for isolates BME elders and people with disabilities. Their support also includes social activities and day trips.

►  PERC – a programme of structured activities targeted at lone parents including parent/toddler groups, interview techniques, personal development workshops and parent/child play.

For full terms and conditions and an application form visit:- For more information, contact the Community Resources Unit on:- 0151 233 4436.

MP says:- "drivers at risk on 40% of Britain’s roads"

JIM Fitzpatrick, Shadow Road Safety Minister, has said drivers are at risk on 40% of Britain’s roads due to fading road markings in austerity Britain. The MP was responding to a survey by the Road Safety Markings Association which revealed a freefall in the standard of markings on motorways and dual carriageways in Britain. According to the Lifelines survey 38% of markings on motorways and 36% on dual carriageways maintained by the Highways Agency in England need immediate or scheduled repairs. Over 40% of markings on Scotland’s and Wales’ motorways and dual carriageways also need immediate replacement. The survey was the largest ever of Britain’s roads and covered 7250km of white lines in England, Scotland and Wales.   Jim Fitzpatrick said:- "Cutting back on our road markings means cutting back on safety. Markings make the road easy to read for the driver and are by far one of the most cost-effective safety solutions. The Department of Transport are watching the pennies whilst motorists are driving on unsafe roads. This is one basic safety feature we cannot cut back on."  According to the Highways Agency’s own standard the amount of motorway markings needing immediate replacement has doubled from eight to seventeen per cent in the past 2 years. Many in the industry believe this is causing safety issues and the DfT are failing to find a solution.

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