30 May 2024

Councillor criticises Wiltshire Council scheme as pregnant woman stuck in damp-ridden home

A local councillor has criticised Wiltshire Council and the Homes4Wiltshire scheme saying it’s “very concerning” that a pregnant woman has to remain in a damp-ridden property.

The ‘choice-based lettings scheme’ run in part by Wiltshire Council has been criticised for telling a pregnant woman, who suffers from asthma, that it could take up to 50 months for her to move out of her mould and damp-ridden council house.

Vicky Owen, who lives in Bishopdown with her partner and son who also suffers from asthma, was reportedly told by Homes4Wiltshire as part of a recent banding review that, despite her urgent health issues, she would not be placed in a higher band to speed up the move.

Vicky said of her current situation, “I don’t think Wiltshire Council take mould and damp seriously at all. It impacted my son who is 23 months old whose condition has worsened because of the damp. To now be expected to bring my newborn into these conditions in June is ridiculous and heartbreaking.

“They have not listened to my GP or midwife who have written letters to support my move and excusing the conditions as condensation which I have already been told by a builder/damp proof expert it’s external.

“The stress of having to live like this is now affecting not just my physical health but also mental health. I know I’m not the only person with a family having to live in these conditions and it’s inexcusable we should have to and feel we are being ignored.”

Cllr Charles McGrath, councillor for Salisbury Milford which includes Bishopdown, supported Vicky’s comments, saying, “It is extremely concerning that Homes4Wiltshire does not recognise the severity of Vicky’s current living situation.

“I have visited the house and it’s clear to see that the issue is being caused by penetrating damp, with moisture coming from outside the property.

“It appears no attention has been paid to Vicky’s pregnancy, nor her chronic health issues for which she continues to receive regular clinical treatment.

“Vicky has family who live in the Devizes area which in theory should have made the move easier. Sadly, both Wiltshire Council and Homes4Wiltshire have failed to engage properly with Vicky and her family since early last year.”

Vicky’s story comes as many local authorities, from Croydon to Birmingham, face criticism for the uninhabitable state of their council housing.

Responding to questions from Salisbury Radio, Cllr Phil Alford, Cabinet Member for Housing, said, “When people make us aware of concerns regarding the condition of their homes and how this impacts on their heath we visit to determine if repair work is needed.

If there are cases where mould growth is caused by excess condensation rather than damp we can provide advice and guidance on how people can reduce condensation in their homes.

“We can also provide extractor fans and where necessary we will install dry lining and where this involves moving radiators or changing heating it will done in the summer months when heating is not so necessary. 

“When considering the appropriate housing we carefully take into consideration all factors including medical conditions provided by GPs to ensure housing meets people’s needs.”

Written by
Beth Doherty
View all articles
Written by Beth Doherty