Surbiton pensioners face gas cuts until Christmas

Surbiton pensioners in council-owned sheltered accommodation face a cold Christmas as a six week gas cut continues.

Residents in Vine Close have been without gas since October 29 when investigations into a leak revealed that the pipe servicing the road would have to be replaced.

Councillor Frances Moseley, Executive Member for Better Homes, said individual homes would have their gas restored as soon as it became available and hoped all homes would be reconnected by December 23.  But Cllr Moseley admitted it was still possible “unforeseen snags” could further delay the work, leaving some residents facing the prospect of Christmas without gas.

The council is blaming the delay on the lack of in-house surveyors, which meant a delay before they could tender for contractors to fix the problem.

Danny Bower, 69, of Vine Close had his gas reconnected yesterday but said residents in the road were feeling “forgotten”. Mr Bower questioned why it had taken the council “five weeks to find a tender for a one week job”.

Vine Close residents are being compensated by the council at a rate of £2 per electric heater a day and £1 per day for electric cooking but some say this will not cover their costs.

Mr Bower, who has lived in Vine Close for nine years, said: “We had to buy a microwave and microwave meals. They aren’t cheap. The microwave cost us £88 and you know how much power a microwave uses. I mean, you look at the wheel going round when you put them on.”

Mr Bower also said that he was only being compensated for two electric heaters but had been given three by the council.

Conservative councillor for Berrylands Karen George, who has been a “fantastic help” according to Mr Bower, is taking up the fight to ensure that all residents are fully compensated.

In the meantime, Mr Bower was just pleased to have his gas back on. He said: “I’ll be having a shepherd’s pie cooked in my gas oven this evening, I can tell you”.

Vine Close is a council-run “Sheltered Housing” scheme which according to the council’s website aims to provide “convenient and comfortable accommodation in a setting which allows tenants to come and go as they please”.