MY CHRISTMAS HELL, BY COUNCIL TENANT
January 14, 2004
A COUNCIL house tenant who spent Christmas with a hole in her roof is celebrating after the Wokingham Times took up her case.
Louise King first discovered the roof of her Alnatt Avenue home was leaking in November and said she contacted Wokingham District Council, but no repairs were carried out.
The leak became a three-foot square hole when part of the roof collapsed just feet away from where the single mum was asleep — and still no work was done, she claimed.
But following a call from the Times the council has apologised for the delay in repairing the roof, and has agreed to replace it and redecorate the room.
Miss King, who has lived in the house for five years, and speaking before the council agreed to the repair, said: "I was trying to sleep and woke up to this big bang and was shocked to find the ceiling had collapsed.
"I have been trying to get this sorted out for months. I am now at my wits end, I don't know what else I can do. This is no way for anyone to live.
"All they seem to do is take my number and say they'll get back to me. On one occasion I was told by the council that the work had been done.
"It's the council's property and their responsibility to chase it up, they're not acting like very good landlords.
"My family think it's disgusting. All I want is someone to say they are coming to fix it."
The leak started on Sunday, November 23, and was reported the next day, said Miss King.
The roof was inspected a few days later by council contractors Cousins Ltd.
A week later a second roofer said that a joint needed replacing, but despite temporarily covering the roof, the leak continued.
Miss King was later told the whole roof would need replacing, but was assured that despite the crack being close to the electrics there was no danger and that the roof would hold.
Instead the leak grew into a large crack before giving way completely on January 3 leaving a hole in the roof.
She said she was furious over the council's inaction, and concerned about the electrical hazards and health implications for both herself and her 10-year-old son Justin.
Miss King said she has regularly been forced to empty heavy buckets of water from inside her home, and says that as an asthma sufferer the constant dampness is affecting her health.
She added: "I have been told I need to get some rest but haven't been able to because the constant dripping kept me awake.
"It has ruined my sleep pattern and I cannot remember the last time I had a proper night's sleep."
However, roofers finally sprang into action last Wednesday, and temporary repairs were made to stop the leak and an entirely new roof is currently being put on.
Wokingham District Council said contractors would be sent to completely redecorate the room.
Cllr Pauline Helliar-Symons, executive member for housing and social care, personally thanked the Wokingham Times for making her aware of the problem.
She said: "I very much regret the distress that Louise has been through.
"Obviously I shall be investigating thoroughly why this wasn't completed before such drastic events took place. It should not have happened."
Miss King said: "I am very grateful to the paper and looking forward to a good night's sleep."