A COUPLE’S dreams of a fresh start in a new home after surviving personal tragedy have turned sour.
John and Jayne Bower feel angry and let down by the authorities.
The couple claim they have been in a living nightmare since last October when John suddenly contracted meningitis, which led to his legs being amputated on December 13.
John, who was working as an installation engineer for Fujitsu when the infection suddenly struck, and Jayne waited 16 weeks for Kirklees Council to adapt a flat in Kirkheaton for wheelchair access. Their previous home of 12 years in Woodville Place, Bradley, was unsuitable.
They were looking forward to putting the horror of the past few months behind them and starting the next phase of their lives in their new Larch Close home.
Instead, they moved in to discover that, although the council had carried out structural changes, they had left the apartment in an unsafe and barely habitable and condition.
Kirklees had installed a new wheelchair ramp, glass door and a wet room. But they had not carried out any finishing work.
Tiles had been ripped up in the living room leaving a bare floor with ridges of hardened glue. Other tiles had been left in the kitchen and living room, but some are missing or broken, leaving an uneven surface with bare nails. There was no handrail in the bathroom.
According to the couple, the apartment was filthy and relatives have helped them to strip the wallpaper off some of the walls. The windows are covered with newspaper as they cannot afford to buy curtains.
But with no money for a new floor, carpets or curtains and only £200 from Kirklees to redecorate the whole apartment, they cannot see any way forward.
Jayne, who works part-time at Asda, is unable to decorate due to a medical condition and her parents are in their late 70s.
A tearful Jayne said: “We left a beautiful home in Bradley and I feel very angry with Kirklees. Look at this place, it is terrible, barely habitable. It is not a safe environment for John.
“Kirklees told us it would be finished to a high standard. I cannot describe how I feel, it is so upsetting. How are we ever going to get it finished?”
John added: “I have already caught my foot on some nails, slipped and nearly fallen. I have to watch myself all the time when I move around, it is a real worry.
“This flat is nowhere near the standard of the house we left behind. I am very disappointed with the way Kirklees has left it.”
The council has charged the couple for removing a fire which Jayne had written permission from Kirklees to install, also for removing two carpets and expensive brass sockets and light switches.
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “We are sorry to hear that Mr and Mrs Bower are unhappy with some aspects of their new home.
“When council homes are let, especially if they have had major repairs or renovations carried out, they are undecorated and do not include floor coverings. We give tenants an allowance so they can decorate to their own taste.
“We can also provide a handy-person service to do odd jobs and minor repairs to help new tenants get settled in.
“All empty homes have to meet a certain standard before they are let, with some minor repairs being done after the tenant has moved in, rather than before, so as not to delay the move.
“Unfortunately, in this case, the problem with loose tiles and nails was not picked up by staff and we’ll be looking at how we can improve this process in future.
“Now that we are aware of the problems, we have ordered the repairs and they are being carried out.
“We have also reviewed the bill for repairs required at their previous home and, given the difficulties of the move, we will not charge them for this work”.