Harlow Council housing repairs flood flat and leave mum-of-of-three in tears
Politics / Thu 19th Jun 2014 am30 06:13am
Mother-of-three Grace Sadler was delighted when Harlow Council contacted her just two weeks ago and informed her that her Felmongers flat would be getting a new kitchen and bathroom.
The workmen came in on Tuesday and began what she was told was a 21 day (from beginning to signing off) project.
They finished the first days work. It left Ms Sadler without proper washing facilities, nowhere to cook but she adapted for the one evening. However, her problems were only just beginning.
Her downstairs neighbour came home that evening to discover that a leak had flooded her flat, leaving her daughter’s bedroom “like a swamp.” The carpet, bed, toys were soaked.
Ms Sadler planned to address the issue in the morning. A morning that was going to be busy anyway as she had to drop her five-year-old off at school and then go to the doctors with her two-month–old son.
But by 9.30am, the workmen had not arrived. Ms Sadler left a note on her door to say that she was popping out for 30 minutes to attend the doctors but when she arrived home, no workmen.
Ms Sadler contacted the telephone number she had been given.
Ms Sadler said: “The man I spoke to told me that the workman would not be attending today (Wednesday) and may be attending tomorrow. I told him of the circumstances for myself and my downstairs neighbour but he was, to put it politely, very curt with me.”
The distressed Ms Sadler was lucky she has family and friends to rally round. She walked two miles across town and took all her washing to her mothers. In the evening, neighbours brought food over for her.
Ms Sadler contacted YH and we put a series of questions to the relevant parties.
It can sometimes be a bit complicated but we understood that Harlow Council contract out such repairs to the Keir Group. YH understands that this particular job was then sub-contracted out to Berkshire-based housing contractor Pilon Ltd.
On Wednesday evening, council officers and representatives from Keir came to Ms Sadler’s flat and were shocked at the conditions she was left with.
Portfolio Holder for Housing, councillor Rod Truan said: “The flooding was caused by a hidden pipe in the floor. This is the first time an incident like this has happened on the Modern Homes programme and we are sorry to Ms Sadler and other tenants for the inconvenience caused.
“Housing Officers and Kiers Services Limited are on site now to support tenants and resolving this situation is the top priority. Council officers will review the installation on a daily basis with the tenant.
Kier Services Limited are also in contact with the tenants affected by flooding and any damage will be repaired and any damage property replaced.”
Kier Services endorsed the action plan laid out by Harlow Council
A spokesperson said: “We were sorry to hear of Ms Sadler’s complaint. We started work on the property on Tuesday 17 June as pre-arranged and we made Ms Sadler aware that we would be on site again on Thursday 19 June to continue with the works.
“Ms Sadler was advised by our resident liaison officer in the pre-start visit that the installation of both the bathroom and kitchen will take up to 21 days, but we would ensure that her water supply was put back on at the end of each day to minimise disruption.
“During the course of removing the bath a leak was discovered from an existing pipe below. This pipe was encased in concrete so the leak was not immediately apparent. As a result of the leak water did leak into the property below. When advised of the leak the site team acted immediately and stopped the leak. No damage was caused to Ms Sadler’s property and, by the end of Tuesday 17 June all sanitary ware was refitted and in working condition throughout.”
We let Ms Sadler have the final word.
“There was no indication that they would not be attending at flat on Wednesday. I have a busy life and with three children and a partner, I like to think I am pretty organised.
“What we may have here is a communication breakdown that may occur with three organisations (Harlow Council, Keir and Pilon) working on the same job.
“All I want is to be able to feed my children, wash my children and clean their clothes”.
YH has contacted the Pilon group and is awaiting a response.
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