Mouldy council house makes my kids ill
Jodie Penfold with her
children Bonnielou and Alfie-John.
Two children and their mother have
needed repeated emergency treatment for breathing difficulties
because of extensive damp in their council maisonette.
Bonnielou, two, and Alfie-John
Penfold, four, were taken several times over Christmas and New Year
to Darent Valley Hospital with coughs and allergies.
The maisonette in Wiltshire Close,
Dartford, has black mould, water streaming down the walls and a wet
Mum Jodi Penfold, 21, first complained
to the council in October and doctors have written letters saying
the two-bed maisonette is uninhabitable.
The Messenger contacted Cllr Jeremy
Kite (Con), leader of Dartford council, this week.
He said they had been stretched by
emergency calls, and people had to take their turn.
But on learning there were two
toddlers living there, he immediately made arrangements to visit
their mother, and ordered repairs should start even though
officials had told her damp and running water were normal.
"As far as I am concerned we have to
operate in the real world," he said. "We are under a lot of
pressure and have to prioritise," said Cllr Kite.
"If it is uninhabitable, we would have
to move her and the children immediately."
Water was running inside the loft roof
from a broken tile, and more was streaming down a temporary
tarpaulin hung on the entrance wall when the Dartford Messenger
called last week.
Ms Penfold, who is taking legal
advice, said doctors at Darent Valley Hospital have told her mould
spores are causing her children’s asthma.
A former senior care worker, she said
the mould first appeared in October and rapidly spread.
Gutters are blocked with shrubs, grass
and moss and she called for help straight away, but orders for work
were not placed until mid-December.
An electrician did call after
Christmas but problems remained.
"When I asked one official if he would
live in these conditions, he said of course he would," Ms Penfold
"I asked him if he would let his
children live there – he said yes."
She finally got a council manager to
look at her maisonette over the new year.
"He said they sent an inspector in
November, but a repair order was not filed until weeks later," said
She added the manager was shocked when
he saw blocked gutters, moss in the eaves, a shrub growing in a
rear gutter, and sealants missing from around the front door.
He told her work would be carried out,
but with no idea when, Ms Penfold contacted the Messenger in
Work is understood to have now begun
on the home.