Falkirk Council promises action on backlog of 1000 new kitchens

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Falkirk Council says its teams are working “flat out” to catch up with a backlog of 1000 new kitchens waiting to be installed in tenants’ homes.

The council says that a combination of Covid and national shortages of materials and labour have led to the backlog and they are now hoping to appoint “several new contractors” to speed things up.

Upper Braes councillor Claire Mackie-Brown raised the issue after getting lots of complaints from constituents, some of who have been waiting nearly two years for their new kitchen. She says that many of them feel they were left “fobbed off” after being given different dates for installation.

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Cllr Mackie-Brown said: “They have had the surveys done and been told they are getting their kitchens replaced but that’s been nearly two years now. Elected members have been told that all housing repairs are now up to date, so there’s a bit of a mixed message as I am now being told that 1000 kitchens are waiting to be replaced.”

The council says teams are working 'flat out' to clear the backlog.The council says teams are working 'flat out' to clear the backlog.
The council says teams are working 'flat out' to clear the backlog.

While a kitchen replacement is not classed as a repair, Cllr Mackie-Brown says that the work is very much needed in people’s homes, adding: “Some of the kitchens are very old and tenants can’t get the parts to replace them.”

One constituent complained to Cllr Mackie-Brown of a list of problems including shelves falling apart and doors and drawers hanging off. While she has been getting repairs done herself, she is frustrated that the elderly units can no longer be replaced.

“It will soon be two years since she first reported this,” said Cllr Mackie-Brown. “I just think there has been poor communication and tenants are fed up waiting. People have been given dates and these haven’t been met – now when they are asking for a date they aren’t being given one.”

She wants the council to be more upfront about the delays.

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“People are paying for these properties and they aren’t fit for purpose – a kitchen is the hub of the home and people want to take pride in them,” she said.

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “Our installation teams are working flat out to catch up with our kitchen programme in this area. The knock-on effect of Covid-19, national shortages of both materials and labour have delayed us, but we are doing everything we can to deliver new installations.

“This includes bringing in an external supplier for some short-term assistance and we intend to issue a new, four-year framework for the supply of kitchens in the near future where we hope we can appoint several contractors simultaneously to help reduce backlogs. Again, we stress staff are doing everything possible to improve the situation for our tenants as quickly as possible.”

In 2019, Falkirk Council announced it was to spend nearly £30 million on improvements to around 4,700 properties, including £3.5 million on replacement kitchens and bathrooms. That was part of an overall package of £280 million, to be spent over five years on improving council homes and buying or building new ones.

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