Housing repairs “horror stories” spark apology during Sheffield council budget meeting

Written by Izzie Pridmore

A disabled woman in Sheffield who has been waiting over a year for repairs after the ceiling of her council home collapsed and poured like an “indoor waterfall”, was amongst tenants who received an apology from Sheffield City Council.

At a budget meeting last Wednesday, a petition started by Liberal Democrat councillors, including candidate Sophie Thornton, was read out. It was formed after freedom of information requests disclosed Sheffield tenants were waiting 57 days on average for repairs.

Responding to Ms Thornton’s outlining of the damage some tenants have been faced with, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community safety Coun Paul Wood said: “What you read out sounds like a horror story and I would personally apologise to every tenant who has gone through the problems that you’ve just outlined.”

He said they aim to curb this by having the additional capacity in their workforce by offering overtime hours, recruiting new trade operatives and filling the vacancies within the repair service.

Jordanthorpe resident Natalie Tivey, 41, has been waiting over a year for the communal ceiling above her flat block’s security doors to be mended properly.

“It literally started pouring and I mean pouring, it was like an indoor waterfall. It was starting to come up to people’s front doors, bearing in mind I’m in a ground floor flat and I’m disabled,” said Ms Tivey, recalling the moment the ceiling gave way to water during Storm Dennis.

“All of these flats around here have got damp and black mould. I’ve got a spare bedroom that is only used for storage. It used to have a bed in it but there’s black mould under the window. There’s black mould in the bathroom and all you get told from the council is ‘don’t have your heating on, open your windows’.”

Mum of five, Danielle De Sousa, from Westfield, has struggled with a gap in her bathroom tiles which leaks into her kitchen ceiling above her electric cooker.

“I want my kids to be able to get in the bath themselves and not have to have me there with them. I feel like I’m constantly on edge all the time. If I come downstairs to put the towels in the dryer, I’ll hear them splashing around and I’ll shout ‘don’t splash!’ but I can see the water coming through.”

Ms De Sousa reported the problem in September last year and has also flagged up asbestos in the Artex walls and ceilings of her home to the council.

“I rang the council last year because I had one engineer come out to sort out my front door and he looked at my walls and went, ‘that’s dangerous, you need to have that taken off.’ I reported it to the council and they said to me it was fine and could stay there.”

Commenting on Wednesday’s meeting, Ms Thornton said: “It shouldn’t have taken a 900-strong petition for people to get their repairs done, they should be able to go through the service.”

http://youtu.be/_HHeG1pc2H4

Written by Izzie Pridmore

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