LOCAL window manufacturers and installers, including McIlhattons in Ballymoney, have warned that proposed changes to the type of hinges used by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive will lead to more than 100 job losses across the glazing sector.
The DSD Minister is recommending that the current ‘reversible’ hinge is replaced by a ‘casement’ hinge in the on-going rollout of the double glazing programme throughout the NIHE properties.
The casement hinge was in use until 2006 when the NIHE switched to the reversible hinge.
According to the NIHE the change will result in a saving of ‘up to £500,000’, a figure disputed by the glazing companies involved.
A number of glazing firms including McIlhattons at Ballybrakes Business Park have stressed to the DSD Minister Nelson McCausland the potential impact of the change in specification.
A spokes person for McIlhatton & Co. Ltd said: “The NIHE’s claim that they will save £500k by changing from the reversible hinge to the casement hinge has no foundation.
“In a lot of cases the casement windows will have to be redesigned and will need an additional handle and lock.This will make it more expensive than the reversible window.
“It will also be very difficult and some elderly people will find it impossible to operate the safety feature on the opening sash.
“This requires buttons at the top and button of the opening sash to be depressed at the same time whilst pushing open the sash.
“The NIHE’s claim that they will make savings of approximately £15millon is impressive, however £14.5millon is to be saved by changing the method of installation therefore doing away with the need for redecorating grants.
“The same installation method can be applied to the reversible window. It makes no sense to throw away a 25 year warranty to get a 10 year warranty in its place,with no significant savings to the public purse.
“On top of all this we the manufactures have invested over £1million in machinery and manpower to install the reversible hinge.
“This has been in use since 2006 and has not had a single maintenance problem.If this change goes ahead it will result in over a hundred job losses throughout the industry.”