£350 for new letterboxes

Pensioners have been left stunned after being quoted around £350 each for new letterboxes which must be installed at their retirement flats in Churchdown.

Residents at Sweetbriar House have received a quote from Jephson Housing Association as a “goodwill gesture” which says the changes must be made to meet fire regulations.

More than 30 over-55s living in the block received a letter which said the letterboxes could cost between £50 and £90. But it would take a day to fit just two, racking up labour charges of up to £400.

One resident Walter Griffiths said this “rip off” has enraged his neighbours – some of which as old as 90 – who struggle to get by on their pensions alone.

He said:
Would you pay more than £400 to have a letterbox fitted? There are quite a few people that are going to refuse to do it. This is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know anybody who would pay that money for a letterbox.
They seem to find expensive ways of doing things. Everybody here is over 55 and we have people who are 90. There are a lot of people who don’t have an awful lot of money and just their pension to live on – they are not rich people.

Jephson Housing Association leases a total of 32 flats and its residents benefit from regular weekly social activities, including whist, and a monthly coffee morning.

A “rough price guide” from Bristol Fire, fire safety and security specialists, was included in the letter from Jephson which said VAT would be charged on top of supply and labour costs.

Jephson said the upgrades need to be carried out after an independent consultant’s assessment found the letterboxes no longer meet fire regulations.

“They are under no obligation to use this contractor,” said a Jephson spokesman. “As a goodwill gesture, we asked our contractor to provide residents with a quote for this work.

“As the properties are leasehold, residents are responsible for their individual homes.

“Their obligations, which include ensuring their homes comply with fire regulations, are included in their lease agreements.

“The safety of residents is of paramount importance to us and we have a duty of care to those living in the buildings we manage. We have therefore advised people living at Sweetbriar House to carry out this work in accordance with their agreements to eliminate what has been independently identified as a fire hazard.”