Family’s shock at state of 102-year-old’s home


An ‘upgrade’ to a Northampton council house left the 102-year-old tenant living with exposed wires and a switch that operated both her washing machine and kettle.

Edith Sharman, from Goldings, moved in with relatives last month so her local authority house could be upgraded as part of Northampton Borough Council’s ‘decent homes’ pledge.

Although the work was incomplete, she was allowed to return home early, having been assured it was safe, only to find wiring exposed, loose carpet joiners, a shared switch for a kettle socket and washing machine, holes in the ceiling and hot water pipes running next to the kitchen light switch.

Son-in-law Ronald Blomfield said: “People in these homes are older and vulnerable so having it in this state is terrible. It wasn’t suitable for someone of her age. I can’t believe anyone could be satisfied her house was okay to live in.”

Several neighbours in Mrs Sharman’s street also complained to the council about some upgrades being half finished. One claimed she was number 53 on the waiting list for tenants needing repairs to be rectified, although the council said it had only received 11 formal complaints.

Mr Blomfield said he could not let his mother-in-law go home until it was done: “That’s fine for us, but others who have no relatives living nearby have to put up with it.”

So far more than 870 council houses have received ‘decent homes’ upgrades since April 2013.

The day after the Chronicle & Echo asked Northampton Borough Council for a comment, the issues were rectified.

Councillor Mary Markham, cabinet member for housing, said Mrs Sharman’s home was scheduled to have a new heating system, a new kitchen and complete electrical rewiring and had been deemed safe enough for her early return.

She said: “A borough council officer went out on Friday to inspect the works and make sure the property was safe and habitable for Mrs Sharman.The officer noted the works were not scheduled for completion for another six days but was satisfied that nothing posed a risk to her safety.”

Councillor Mary Markham, cabinet member for housing at Northampton Borough Council, said: “It was agreed that Mrs Sharman would move in with her daughter for the duration of the work. The works were scheduled by our contractor, Kier, to start on January 8 and be completed by February 6.

“Last week, Mrs Sharman’s family contacted Kier to see if it would be possible for her to move back to her home on Saturday, February 1, six days earlier than the date the work was scheduled to be completed. Kier agreed but explained that the work would not be completed but would be safe.

“The works have now been completed. A council officer inspected the works on Tuesday, February 4 and was satisfied all the work is now complete, two days ahead of schedule.”