Picture: Kerry Roberts

A SCHEME to help combat fuel poverty has backfired on rural Arfon residents who say it was not 'fit for purpose.'

The Welsh Government’s ARBED initiative aimed to provide home insulation for older properties. But residents' claim the work has left homes damaged, unsightly and needing repair.

The Arfon AM Siân Gwenllian, who campaigned for a review of the scheme, was contacted by constituents in Deiniolen, Dinorwig, Carmel and Y Fron. She took up their cases with First Minister Mark Drakeford and now, a second independent review has been announced.

Graham and Helen Sutherland's stone and brick 1830s home, in Deiniolen was affected. Graham said: "We can't fault the cladding, it has reduced bills, but the paint cover was put on way too thinly. It looks very unsightly and is going to have to be re-done."

Valmai and Alwyn Williams' home on Rhes Faenol, Deiniolen, was damaged. Alwyn said: "It's left our house with damp coming into the porch.

"The paint coverage was very patchy, it hasn't covered properly. We are now getting estimates to find out how much it will cost to put it right."

Kerry Roberts, of Porth y Gogledd said: "The problem on my home seems to be poor application of the protective paint.

"We were promised a 'maintenance free' 10 years, and told the paint repels dirt, but that is only if it's properly applied. They have put the paint on thinly, leaving gaps, mould and stains take hold and spread.

"I have no complaint with the cladding insulation benefits, but not at the expense of making homes unsightly and dirty. The paint application was just not fit for purpose."

Mrs Gwenllian said: "My constituents took up the scheme in good faith; believing they were saving money on their energy bills and doing their for climate change. Little did they know the problems that would ensue and the impact.

"Many have been left with serious damage as a result of what can only be described as shoddy workmanship. Cracked walls, damp, crumbling plaster, poorly-fit downpipes, damage to roofs and severe discolouration to the external cladding.

"What my constituents deserve is full redress. They did not sign up to work being carried out on their homes only to be left living with problems. They want assurances from the Welsh Government that their concerns are being met with robust action.

"I took this matter up directly with the First Minister who accepted that the scope of the initial investigation was too narrow and needed to be widened.

"I have also contacted Solthern responsible for the warranty asking them to look into the matter."