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Severe cold snap brought huge demand for council services

Published: Wednesday, 21st December 2022

The recent spell of sustained severe cold weather brought with it significant demand for council services.

Severe cold snap brought huge demand for council services

The recent spell of sustained severe cold weather brought with it significant demand for council services.

Temperatures plummeted to minus nine degrees overnight and on two days last week didn’t reach above minus six until lunchtime, as the first severe cold weather of the year hit the city.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council services responded to the changing conditions, with gritting teams working round-the-clock, and the ‘severe weather emergency protocol’ enacted which saw council teams and other local services helping to move rough sleepers off the streets and into emergency accommodation.

The severe cold meant a number of households across the city experienced frozen pipes, leaks, and boiler breakdowns, and this was no different for some tenants in city council properties. The authority is the largest social landlord in the city, with more than 17,000 properties. Demand for housing maintenance repairs during the cold weather rose from a typical volume of 150 out-of-hours weekend calls, to around 350 during the weekend of 10 December. More than 900 calls were made to the authority during last weekend.

The council also received calls from people experiencing issues relating to the cold weather’s impact on household heating appliances, alongside leaking and frozen pipes.

As a result of the extreme temperatures, Unitas attended nearly 1,500 plumbing and heating repair jobs during the week commencing 12 December with a peak over Thursday 15 and Friday 16 December, which saw demand rise to 354 and 401 jobs respectively on those days. This was in comparison to 820 jobs during the whole of the previous week beginning 5 December.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “The cold experienced over the past 10 days has been unprecedented this year, it is the first sustained and severe cold spell of the winter. We know that call volumes to our contact centre were exceptionally high during this period, and residents may have experienced longer wait times while teams coped with the demand. Our services work hard to support residents through all weather conditions and we apologise for any inconvenience this peak in demand may have caused.”

As a reminder, residents are able to report non-urgent issues online via: https://www.stoke.gov.uk/info/20001/council_tax_and_benefits/315/mystoke_online_account/5

There is support available for residents who may be struggling with rising energy costs. Energy advice and fuel vouchers are available for eligible households, through work the council is delivering in partnership with community and voluntary sector organisations under its Stronger Together Through Winter campaign. More details can be found via: www.sottogether.vast.org.uk, or calling 01782 208200 Monday to Friday 2pm-7pm.