Still No Answer on City Housing Turnaround Times

Eoghan Dalton Reports
A City Councillor has appealed for figures on turnaround times for bringing houses back into use to be published by the local authority.
Waterford City & County Council (WCCC) introduced a scheme designed to re-let houses at a speedier rate, but it has come in for criticism as the work had previously been carried out by local contractors. It has now so far failed to release figures on the new turnaround times. Cllr Jason Murphy (FF) has called for them during more than one plenary session of the Council in recent months, with this month’s sitting being the latest.

Speaking at the meeting on October 11th, he noted that seven houses had been completed by the new contractor, CTS Projects. He then sought clarification on whether they had been turned around faster and cheaper than they were with the previous contractors. The average time it took to turnaround a property was roughly 25 weeks, which WCCC’s Director of Housing, Ivan Grimes has previously said will be halved through the new scheme. “We are satisfied that the new contractors are meeting the contractual requirement for turnaround times,” said Mr Grimes. “I don’t have the figures in front of me but I know they are being delivered significantly cheaper than previously.”

He told Cllr Murphy he would also send him the updated figures showing how the turnaround times have improved, but this has yet to happen, according to the City South man.
“My experience, anecdotally, is that the turnaround times haven’t improved and have in fact regressed,” he told The Munster Express.
He said any delays are either in the construction element of the process or in the aspect related to paperwork, but added that without the figures it’s not clear where any problems may lie.
“I can’t get an answer if it’s working. All I want to know is, has it improved?”

If CTS Projects fails to meet the terms of its contract it can be reprimanded, however details of the length of turnaround times promised in the contract have not been released, with WCCC citing commercial sensitivities. Waterford Council relied heavily on refurbishments in 2017 with up to 200 houses brought back into use alongside 40 new builds and leases. Currently there are over 1,400 applicants on the housing waiting list in the city and county.“I’m going to continue calling on these figures to be published and put into the public domain,” Cllr Murphy said.

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