Military families in squalor as repair job backlog hits almost 2,000

Navy wife Tracey Stinton outside her MoD house in Gosport which she said was unfit to live in
Picture Ian Hargreaves (161254-6)
Navy wife Tracey Stinton outside her MoD house in Gosport which she said was unfit to live in Picture Ian Hargreaves (161254-6)

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  • An investigation by The News reveals the scale of work needed to fix up Hampshire’s armed forces housing
  • Desperate families rely on neighbours for warm baths as they wait weeks for boilers to be fixed
  • MPs and campaigners demand action to strip firm responsible of its multi-billion pound MoD contract
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DEPRIVED military families are being forced to beg to use their neighbours’ baths for weeks as a backlog of almost 2,000 repair jobs mounts, leaving scores of service personnel living in squalor.

An investigation by The News has revealed the shocking state of the county’s military homes, with 1,889 repair jobs needing to be tackled by a private firm charged with fixing the properties.

It is clear this company cannot deliver the required contract and they should go

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP

Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show the bulk of the work set to be carried out by CarillionAmey includes fixing broken heaters, dodgy plumbing and faulty electrics.

And in one case, The News can reveal that families in the Portsmouth area were left waiting for weeks over winter without hot water, relying on the kindness of neighbours for a warm bath.

It’s a situation that has enraged MPs, armed forces campaigners and service families – who last night called for CarillionAmey to be stripped of their multi-billion pound deal with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

One Portsmouth sailor, who is not being named, said: ‘This is the sort of thing you have to put up with when you decide to serve your country. I’ve seen slums that are nicer.’

Hampshire has the largest armed forces population in the UK, with some 7,500 service family accommodation homes – about 15 per cent of the nation’s total UK military housing stock.

The News’s probe has revealed Rowner’s block of military homes is the worst affected area in the county, with a whopping 424 jobs still outstanding.

In Old Portsmouth, there are 98 jobs still to be completed, while at the home of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, on Thorney Island, there are 166 on the to-do list.

It comes just weeks after The News revealed soldiers on Thorney Island were left without heating for months.

One senior soldier living at the base believed the latest revelations were only the tip of the iceberg, claiming many more problems went by unreported.

The Afghanistan veteran said: ‘The repair jobs are of rubbish quality. People are so fed up moaning (about CarillionAmey) that they have just given up.’

Other tasks still needed to be tackled include fixing a broken fire alarm, 40 pest control call-outs, 409 different joinery jobs, as well as dozens of plastering and roofing repairs.

CarillionAmey has said improvements were on the way and that it completes 95 per cent of repair works.

However, former armed forces minister, Penny Mordaunt has been appalled at the firm’s track record and said it needs to go.

‘This is completely unacceptable, and has been for some time,’ she said.

‘Some of these jobs are not trivial, for example, I have known people having to go without hot water for long periods of time. A few households were helping each other out by enabling families to use their bathrooms over a number of weeks while they waited for repairs.

‘It is clear this company cannot deliver the required contract and they should go.’

She added service families should have the choice to hire their own tradesmen – at the Crown’s expense – if repair works were not completed in a ‘reasonable time’.

A CarillionAmey spokesman said: ‘In January we complete up to 2,000 maintenance tasks a week in the Hampshire area, this is normal and overall there were very few delays. In March four new local suppliers are joining us in the South West, together we are committed to providing a more engaged service to our customers, which forms part of our ongoing enhancements to service delivery on the defence estate.’

An MoD official added: ‘We take very seriously the quality of the accommodation provided for our Armed Forces and their families.

‘CarillionAmey address 95 per cent of the 30,000 maintenance requests they receive every month within contracted timeframes and are working hard to improve their service.’