Kier attacked over cost of changing lightbulbs

Grant Prior 13 years ago
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Kier has come under fire for charging Stoke-on-Trent council an extra £1m for changing lightbulbs after ladders were banned by health and safety officials.

Council figures show Kier Stoke charged the city council £423,000 for the use of scaffolding in 2008/09. But that rose to £1.4m in 2009/10 after the ladders ban.

It costs £35-a-day to erect scaffolding at a property, with the structures remaining for an average of eight days.

Council officials are trying to reduce the cost by persuading Kier to use cheaper platform towers.

City Independents deputy leader Councillor Dave Conway, told ThisisStaffordshire: “I’ve warned my wife that if the bathroom light goes we will have to put scaffolding up.

“It’s nonsense. Pensioners whose lights have gone outside their homes have had to wait for scaffolding.It’s health and safety gone mad.”

Community Voice councillor Mike Barnes claimed: “Kier has had a ladder ban across the country since January 2010 after someone fell off a ladder and seriously injured themselves.

“Since then, small jobs are being held up by Kier because they need scaffolding and it costs us £35-a-day.

“There are pensioners who need a new security light which someone six feet tall could put up by hand, who are having to wait six months because scaffolding is needed.”

Council officials described the £1.4m bill as a ‘significant amount’.

A spokesman said: “The money was spent to provide safe access to roofs, windows and guttering to carry out necessary housing repairs through our contractor Kier.

“We are working with Kier to reduce this cost by introducing new safe and efficient methods of access like platform towers rather than scaffolding.

“We are confident that we can carry on reducing the cost with wider use of platform towers.”

A spokesman for Kier Stoke denied there was a blanket ban on using ladders. He told the Daily Mail: “Ladders will be used where the risk assessment justifies their use for short duration work of a light nature.

“When a security light that requires attention is more than 8ft above the ground, a two-man team attends and erects a mobile tower to ensure the safety of our employees.”

One safety expert told the Enquirer: “Kier is coming under fire here for simply following the rules.

“If they don’t they risk prosecution, and if they do it costs more, so it’s a bit of a no-win situation for contractors.”

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