HUNDREDS of council homes in Bournemouth are not up to date with electrical safety checks – although work is underway to catch up on the backlog.

Many of the checks were not carried out when scheduled because of access problems during the pandemic.

A small number of council homes in Poole are also awaiting checks although appointments have been made for most of these to be completed in the coming weeks. Only nine properties are affected in Poole.

Portfolio holder for people and homes Cllr Karen Rampton told the BCP Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, January 12, that over 85 per cent of the electrical tests had been completed with around 400 outstanding, mainly in Bournemouth.

She said that as a result of the delays the authority had self-referred itself to the regulator but did have a robust action plan in place to catch up.

She told the meeting that checks for asbestos, gas and water quality were generally up to date across the council area although there remained some access problems in a small number of properties, all of which were being resolved.

Most of the check have been carried out by private contractors although, from April, the routine inspections will be carried out in-house.

Bournemouth has just over 5,000 council homes with 4,500 in Poole.

In Christchurch the housing stock is operated by Sovereign Housing Association which has its own procedures for carrying out statutory safety inspections.

The council is required to carry out safety checks in line with new legislation introduced by the Government following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 with a new Bill expected to come into force next year with more stringent rules and procedures.

Part of the new regulations include recognition of higher risk properties with six tower blocks in Poole expected to fall into the category together with four high-rise buildings in Westbourne due for completion this year.

Cllr Rampton said that where water tank inspections have to be carried out there remains 22 blocks of flats in Bournemouth where it had not been possible to complete testing because of access issues. She said the contractor responsible for testing has asked for additional work to provide safer access for its staff. She said work had started on this in early January which, when completed, will allow the outstanding checks to then be carried out.

The meeting also heard that work at the tower blocks at Sterte Court, Poole to remove and replace cladding with non-combustible materials is expected to be complete in April 2022 with a sprinkler system now installed and operational.

Pic – Cllr Karen Rampton at the Wednesday Cabinet meeting