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Elderly woman ‘frightened’ to return to cracked council house officers say is ‘fit to live in’

Structural damage to the house
Structural damage to the house

A 76-year-old woman who is about to be discharged from hospital said she is “too scared” to return to her cracked council house that Sheffield City Council said is “fit to live in”.

Carol Dale, who lives on Gleadless Road, has been in hospital for the past seven weeks after a bad fall and is supposed to be returning home.

Crack by the windows

Crack by the windows

But her house is covered in cracks wide enough to let in cold and sunlight and she is afraid it will collapse. 

She reported small cracks around the walls of her home to the council around December 2017. Since then the council have undertaken two inspections but no action has yet been taken and her sister, June Barratt, said the cracks have now expanded to three times the size.

Ms Barratt said her sister cannot walk unaided around her house and will have to sleep on her disabled son’s single bed in his living room until the walls are fixed.

She said: “It’s horrendous. She’s scared - she thinks her house is going to fall down around her. It’s not even a crack anymore – it’s a gaping hole. 

Cracks in the walls of Ms Dale's home

Cracks in the walls of Ms Dale's home

“She’s cold and vulnerable and her mind won’t let her sleep in there.”

The first check was undertaken in March at which point Ms Barratt said the gaps measured 6cm. At the second check this month she said they were 16cm.

Ms Barratt said the window with the crack and the adjacent door does not open or close anymore and as a result Ms Dale feels unsafe. She added there are further cracks on the outside walls, living room and in the kitchen walls and tiles.

Janet Sharpe, director of housing and neighbourhoods service, said: “The surveys showed that whilst the property was structurally safe there were cracks in the walls which needed attention. It has been identified that two adjacent trees have contributed to this cracking so the trees will be removed in the next four weeks.

Crack in the kitchen tiles

Crack in the kitchen tiles

“A member of our team visited Ms Dale on Friday, September 14 to discuss and inspect the property again. Some minor repairs were identified to remedy internal doors which were sticking and this work has been ordered.

“The local neighbourhood officer is also arranging to visit Ms Dale to re-assure her. We will keep Ms Dale updated and carry out any further remedial needed to the property following the removal of the trees.”

Cracks in the living room walls

Cracks in the living room walls