Couple are jolted by rewire plan

Ann and Alan Birnie
Ann and Alan Birnie
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A METHIL couple have been shocked by plans to rewire their council home.

An electrical overhaul is proposed at Alan and Ann Birnie’s house as part of a surrounding street upgrade by Fife Council.

But the couple were dismayed to find that, instead of being largely out of sight, the wires would be mounted on the walls and covered with plainly visible plastic trunking.

Holes would have to be made in the ceiling of a number of rooms to allow connections from the sockets to the lights, while large sections of the couple’s fitted kitchen would more or less have to be ripped out.

Alan (61) and Ann (59) say they can’t bear the disruption it would cause, or the after-effects in areas like their living room.

The couple had a new elecricity meter installed along with a new shower at their home and say they were led to understand then that the wiring was in good order – only to be told some months later it would have to be upgraded.

However, they have called the job off twice so far and are sure they don’t want it done with trunking.

“We like our comfort and just don’t want it destroyed,” said Alan, a retired upholsterer.

With eight grandchildren, the Birnies also say they have real safety fears, should the trunking ever be damaged.

However, Fife Council explained the rewiring had to be done this way for legal reasons – rather than the suspected reason of cutting back on costs and paying no redecoration grant.

Lead officer Jim MacDonald told the Mail: “The work we propose is part of an upgrading programme we are carrying out throughout Fife.

“Due to current building regulations, it is not permitted to cut into the face of the brick deep enough to ensure electrical wiring is concealed safely and protected.

“To facilitate this, it is necessary to confine electrical circuits within proprietary trunking.

“This is as safe as if it would be if it was concealed within the fabric of the building and is less liable for accidental damage, as the trunking is visible.

Mr MacDonald added: “During the installation of the couple’s new consumer unit and electrical shower, the test certificate indicated the wiring within the property was not to current standards and, following further checks in surrounding properties, these houses were added into a planned programme of works.”

Methil councillor John O’Brien said there were mitigating circumstances in the case and, while the health and safety concerns were valid, he hoped the circumstances could re-examined and a compromise reached with housing officers which satisfied the tenants and the Council.

He said Mr and Mrs Birnie had his “full sympathy” and he understood they could refuse to have the work done if they wished.