City council to use cherry-picker in bid to cut £1m repair bill
HOUSING workers are to use an industrial cherry-picker for repairs at council houses – to help cut an annual bill of almost £1 million for scaffolding.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Kier have agreed to invest in the 'mobile platform' to allow contractors to carry out work on security lights and roofs without forking out for scaffolds.
Health and safety officials banned ladders after a worker was seriously injured in a fall.
Scaffolding is now used for repairs at heights, which led to a £957,000 bill for the cash-strapped city council last year.
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The firm, which repairs and maintains council houses and public buildings, said the cherry-picker would reduce the use of scaffolding by up to 50 per cent for 'certain types of repair' – as well as speeding up jobs.
It is also buying a drain-clearing machine to reduce the number of sub-contractors called out.
Council tenant Jim Gibson, chairman of Chell Health Residents' Association, said: "In a lot of cases a couple of steps would be enough to do the job but they're not allowed. It's one thing to protect workers, but this is health and safety gone stupid.
"If there's only going to be one cherry-picker dealing with all of the repairs I don't think it will really solve the problem.
"At the moment they tell us they can do the work but we'll have to wait for the scaffolding. Now it'll be the same but we'll just have to wait until the cherry-picker is available."
Councillor Dave Conway, pictured below, leader of the opposition City Independents and a former cabinet member for housing, said: "My house is very tall, especially at the back as there is a drop, but the window cleaner doesn't put up scaffolding or use a cherry-picker – and imagine what it would cost if he did. I also live on a walk, like a lot of people do, and there's no chance they'll be getting a cherry-picker down here.
"It's health and safety crackers and, like a lot of things they come up, with there are many pitfalls."
A Kier spokesman said: "The mobile elevated work platform enables staff to carry out maintenance and repairs at a height of up to 17 metres, including roof and chimney repairs.
"Depending on how it's used it is forecast the introduction of the platform may reduce the use of scaffolds by up to 50 per cent for certain types of repair – as well as providing an enhanced customer service by getting the job done more quickly and safely."
A city council spokesman said the cherry-picker will provide 'greater value for money'.