Stevenage mother ‘helpless’ over sick children in damp flat

Derick and his son Kyle in their flat

Derick and his son Kyle in their flat - Credit: Archant

A mother-of-three says she feels “helpless” watching her three children constantly fighting illness due to living in a cramped, damp flat infested with insects.

The mould in the flat

The mould in the flat - Credit: Archant

Julie and Derick Lopez live with their three children in a two-bedroom flat on the 13th floor of Harrow Court on Silam Road in Stevenage.

Mrs Lopez says her children – aged seven, four and two – are continually ill due to the overcrowded flat being damp, with her two-year-old son Kyle nebulised three times in the last six months after suffering severe asthma attacks.

The family lives directly below the flat that caught fire in February 2005, leading to the deaths of resident Natalie Close and firefighters Jeff Wornham and Michael Miller.

Mrs Lopez blames the damp on the fact the property has not dried out from the gallons of water used to tackle the blaze.

“I just feel helpless,” said the 30-year-old council tenant.

“There’s nothing I can do to help the situation. The flat is infested with silverfish, which will come out because of damp. There’s an infestation from the 7th floor to the 17th.

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“My children are always ill with chest infections. Kyle has been ill for a year-and-a-half with chest infections and asthma problems. I’m always at the doctors.

“There is black mould in my children’s room and our room. The council doesn’t seem to do anything. We want to move, but as soon as we mention where we are nobody wants to know.”

Mrs Lopez’s sister, Tracey Hennighan, added: “The three children have asthma and repeated illnesses, which are aggravated by damp and mould spores.

“Does it take a death for the council to give a damn?”

A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said: “We are aware of the situation and have been working with the tenant to help her manage the mould and silverfish issues.

“Our team will be revisiting the property and tenant shortly to reassess the situation and discuss the issues further, with a view to identifying a permanent solution.”

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