Posted: Thu 8th Feb 2024

Fed-Up Residents Threaten Ombudsman Action Over Unfinished Council Work in Colwyn Bay

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Feb 8th, 2024

Fed-up residents and landlords in Colwyn Bay say their lives are being made a misery by unfinished work carried out at their privately owned properties on behalf of Conwy County Council.
The residents say leaking pipes and broken guttering are causing worsening damp and black mould whilst half-fitted windows and doors and unfinished insulation means the properties are uninhabitable and unfit to rent.
Many of the properties on Abergele Road are also covered by unsightly scaffolding, affecting the businesses beneath the apartments and maisonettes locked in the stalemate.
Now residents are threatening to go to the ombudsman unless the problem is resolved.
The situation was created when Conwy received around £3m of funding from Welsh Government in February 2021 to upgrade and modernise homes in the Colwyn Bay area.
Scheduled in a series of phases, the work was aimed at improving homes’ energy efficiency and helping to tackle poor housing conditions as part of a regeneration effort.
The work would see double-glazing windows installed, new doors, guttering, piping, repointed brickwork, extractor fans, and rendering, amongst other improvements.
But the council contractor Brenig Construction went bankrupt in November, leaving a trail of unfinished work. Residents living at the homes and landlords say their properties have been left in limbo since April 2023.
Angry the work has been left uncompleted, the residents and landlords say they’ve been living in squalor and losing thousands of pounds whilst Conwy has left them little assurance that the situation will be resolved.
Conwy council said they understand the frustration of residents affected, and we are “attempting to resolve the situation as a matter of urgency”.
Ann Rice has run the Buywise furniture shop since 1985 on Abergele Road and owns the two flats above and was promised £54,000 of work, which she says has been left incomplete.
“I’m quite angry because we’ve been fobbed off (by the council) for nearly three years,” she said.
“My property is deteriorating. I sent an email to the council well before Christmas, saying the stuff they had done was causing more damage to my property.
“The downpipes they put on are wrong, so it is flooding. Every time I get rain, it is flooding. I’ve got tenants in the flats, but I lost a tenant because the girl on the top floor never knew when somebody was going to walk across the (scaffolding on the) top floor. She felt uncomfortable.”
Ann claims the scaffolding means her bins and recycling tubs can’t be stored on her property, meaning they block her shop and look untidy on the pavement and are filled by passers-by.
“I’ve got an email from (the council) in June, saying they are starting work next week,” said Ann.
“I’ve had nothing done to my property for 12 months. The drainpipes and the guttering are all faulty, so when it rains, it causes damage to the property. The repointing they’ve done on the front of the building is being washed away because they’ve not done the drainpipes properly. It is starting to get washed away.
“I’ve got two bay windows that haven’t been finished. They weren’t the right size. So I’ve got a 12-inch gap top to bottom. There is no double-glazing there, just a bit of plywood.”
John Helme has lived on Abergele Road for around 50 years and runs his shop Alterations. John also owns two flats above and says he was promised tens of thousands of pounds of work, which has been left uncompleted.
“I’m disappointed. The council has promised and promised, and it’s all been fairy tales really,” he said.
“They haven’t done one thing they promised they would do. They promised me January last year they would sort out all the snags, which I call poor workmanship.
“I’m really annoyed. They are basic jobs that haven’t been finished off properly. They promised and promised they would come back and do them and never turned up. The worst thing is the pointing on the front. They promised to repoint the brickwork, and it looks like a child of three has gone up there with a bucket full of sand.”
Steve Patient has lived at his maisonette on Abergele Road since 1986 and was promised around £40,000 of work, which he also says has been left incomplete, damaging his property.
“You are like a prisoner in your own home because you have to wait three years after all this work is signed off to sell; otherwise, you have to pay a load of the money back,” said Steve.
“I’m seventy-four. I’m getting too old to move. I’m going to be a lot older, 77, if we decided to sell then.”
Steve explained once the work has been completed or signed off, residents cannot sell their homes for three years – or else pay back all or some of the cost of the renovations, depending how long has passed since completion. But the work is nowhere near complete.
Michael Alves and Andrio da Silva own three flats on Abergele Road and have leased the property below to the Hungry Cow since 2020.
Michael says he was promised around £60,000 of work yet to be completed.
“Currently the rendering and the insulation aren’t finished at the back of the property,” he said.
“The insulation has been on the building for over a year, and that’s taken all the water and caused damp to a bedroom and the kitchen in the first-floor flat. It is unrentable,” he said.
“I’m losing about £450 a month since April last year. I feel deflated and angry.”
Abdul Khan has run The Clockhouse restaurant and takeaway since 1990, owns the maisonette above, used as staff accommodation, and claims the council were carrying out around £40,000 of work, which he says is uncompleted.
Abdul is also a Conwy councillor but maintained he is speaking as a landlord and business owner, not an elected member. As well as damp damage to his property, Abdul claims the scaffolding is causing him to lose business.
“I feel badly let down by the council and the council leader and the chief executive because they are all aware of it,” he said.
“I reckon the whole TRI scheme was well over £3m in total. The estimate is that well over £1m has been wasted. We have been passed from post to pillar. If the council doesn’t pull its finger out, the next step is a formal complaint to the council and ombudsman. Somebody has to be answerable for the taxpayers’ money.”
He added: “Every time it rains, it runs down the outside walls, damaging the walls, creating damage and more work. But I’m also a restaurant owner, and the customers think we are closed (due to the scaffolding left up).
“We had black mould in the restaurant, which we cleared, but you can see the bubbles coming out in the wall due to the drainage, and we are supposed to be a restaurant, and we get customers making comments. It is a commercial property, but it is the residential work causing this, due to the fault of the builders.”
A spokeswoman for Conwy County Council said: “We understand the frustration of residents affected, and we are attempting to resolve the situation as a matter of urgency.
“The Housing Renewal – TRI phase 3b is the final stage of regeneration work to the Colwyn Bay Housing Renewal Area. The primary aim is to improve the energy efficiency of each property, and the work to these properties was to tackle the poor housing conditions within the area.
“A schedule for all outstanding work has been prepared and is going out to tender. We’re looking to appoint a new contractor with a view to them being on site as soon as possible.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Brenig Construction for a comment.

By Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter



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