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Canterbury: East Kent Housing tenant Jane Roberts says 'disgusting' mould is worsening her severe lung problems

By Anna MacSwan

A woman with severe lung problems lives in a council flat ridden with black and green mould in every single room.

Jane Roberts, who moved to Westgate Gardens in Canterbury last year, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), arthritis, osteoporosis, foot and muscle spasms and ulcers in her belly and windpipe, but says East Kent Housing "doesn't want to know" about the condition of her home.

Despite cleaning the walls, opening her windows and turning on the heating every single day, the 54-year-old says the mould, which she believes is being caused by persistent damp, is so bad it looks like the property has been ravaged by fire.

Jane Roberts. Picture: Chris Davey.
Jane Roberts. Picture: Chris Davey.

"It's disgusting. There's mould in my kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room," she said.

"Every morning I get up and there's puddles along the windowsill. I have had to throw away curtains, because they had gone mouldy and smelly. I clean every day, because if I don't, there's going to be mould, mould and mould."

Ms Roberts first noticed the black growth in May a few weeks after she moved in, having been forced to leave her previous home through a swap due to bullying.

After several months of trying to manage the problem with regular cleaning she reported it to Mears, who carry out repairs for East Kent Housing, on the advice of her doctor when she began feeling increasingly wheezy.

Already unable to eat any food which isn't blended because of her ulcers, which are linked to stress, she says her health has deteriorated noticeably over the last few months.

Mould in the kitchen area of Jane Roberts flat in Westgate Gardens, Canterbury. Picture: Chris Davey. (6788074)
Mould in the kitchen area of Jane Roberts flat in Westgate Gardens, Canterbury. Picture: Chris Davey. (6788074)

But despite Ms Roberts being the third tenant to raise fears of damp within the property, the company has only offered to clean two small sections of wall behind her washing machine and living room cupboard.

"It's just not good enough. I know there's more to it and it's taking a toll on my health," she continued.

"It's freezing in here, because I have to keep the windows open all the time. I have to take an inhaler every morning so I can breathe, and then I have to take another to open my airways so I can have a cup of tea.

"I now get out of breath from walking from my living room to my kitchen. That feels like I've walked miles, my breathing is so bad, and I've had to get someone else to walk my dog because I can't do that anymore."

Westgate Gardens, Canterbury
Westgate Gardens, Canterbury

She says the stress caused by East Kent Housing's lack of action has been so bad she even had to call an ambulance earlier this month after a severe panic attack.

"I've not had a panic attack for a long time, so I think I've just tired myself out," she continued.

"But when you tell the council, they just don't want to know. They just don't care."

A spokesman for East Kent Housing said: "We're concerned to hear of the problems Ms Roberts is having. An inspection of her property has taken place and we have agreed to carry out a mould wash in two locations.

"We will also be checking the whole block to see if there are any wider problems with mould that need to be addressed."

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