Cancer patient's housing ordeal

Maureen Puckering
Maureen Puckering

A terminally-ill Wigan woman has blasted a social housing provider for leaving her in a flood-damaged flat for 18 months.

Maureen Puckering, from Worsley Mesnes, says her property has had problems with mice, worms, slugs, midges and other insects and has patches of mould and damp in several rooms.

Flood damage at Ms Puckering's house

Flood damage at Ms Puckering's house

The Guinness Partnership, which owns the Brockhurst Walk property, has also left a utility room with bare bricks where plaster has been taken off the walls and loose wires.

An employee of the company even suggested to Ms Puckering, who is having chemotherapy, that she should simply stop using one room and take her appliances out of it due to the conditions.

Ms Puckering, 55, says almost two years of difficulties since her home was flooded on Boxing Day 2015 have taken a serious toll on her health and left her depressed.

She moved back into her flat in April. However, she has since experienced a catalogue of problems with mice, worms and slugs getting in and large patches of damp and mould being found in the utility room, bedroom and bathroom.

The housing organisation has now promised to look into the delays and treat the issue as a matter of urgency.

Maureen said: “I’ve had worms in the bathroom. It was disgusting. There have been slugs in the flat and last summer my brother had to clear mice droppings from a kitchen cupboard.

“Last year they knocked some of the plaster off in the utility room and I’ve been ringing them to sort it. They said they would be out but they haven’t been. The drawers under the bed have mould and the utility room has started going black.”

Her relatives say they are extremely concerned about the effect the damp conditions is having on her health, as she also suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) which badly affects her hands.

She is going through chemotherapy and has been extremely prone to infections after the treatment sessions, which her family fear may be made worse due to the environment in her flat.

They are also concerned that if she becomes ill she has to lie in a damp bed and is unable to have her chemotherapy until she has recovered.

The company has also been accused of not drying out the flags and doing work properly following the December 2015 floods, in which Ms Puckering lost almost everything, in the hurry to get tenants back in their homes. Ms Puckering says communication is so bad that she has almost given up trying to get the problems sorted, with her relatives ringing for her.

She said: “An inspector came out in July and I showed him the utility room. He told me to take the fridge-freezer out and shut it up. He also took pictures and said he would be in touch but no-one has been to this day.

“I’ve lost faith in them. You just don’t want to phone them any more with complaints because you have to ring back again and again. I get aggravated and depressed with it. I’ve just given up with it all.”

Her sister Carol Foster added: “It’s bad that the company thinks it can get away with it. Someone with cancer should not be in that house and they just keep fobbing her off, making excuses.”

A spokeswoman for The Guinness Partnership said: “We were sorry to hear about Maureen’s recent health diagnosis. We will investigate these reports of further damp problems and ensure they are fixed as a matter of priority.

“Our surveyors will be visiting the property tomorrow to inspect the work carried out previously by contractors which sought to remedy the further damp problems.”