Homeless hostel a haven for fleas, mice, mould and damp claim residents - not so says Fenland Council who concede communal areas could be ‘refreshed’

17:40 01 March 2016

Homeless Hostel., March. Flea bites to Sophie Beresfords leg. Picture: Steve Williams.

Homeless Hostel., March. Flea bites to Sophie Beresfords leg. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

Council officials acted within hours of my visit to a homeless hostel where residents claim mice are running around the bedrooms and children have been bitten by fleas.

Homeless Hostel, March. Rodent bait box under kitchen units.  Picture: Steve Williams.Homeless Hostel, March. Rodent bait box under kitchen units. Picture: Steve Williams.

Fenland Council later issued a rebuttal of many of the claims made by tenants of their homeless hostel in March but they did concede “some of the communal areas could be refreshed”.

The council also said they have asked tenants to be out of the housing from 8am to 4.30pm this Thursday to allow pest control contractors access.

The six bedroom hostel and neighbouring flat is home to 10 or more people including several children.

In interviews they told me of problems with mice infestation, fleas, mould, damp and overcrowding.

In response a Fenland District Council spokesman said: “Overall, although the decoration in some of the communal areas could be refreshed, the hostel is generally in a satisfactory condition.

“Various improvements were carried out a few years ago, including replacement windows, new kitchen and carpets.”

On the presence of fleas the spokesman said: “We did receive a call about fleas from one resident -no others have contacted us.

“We found no evidence of fleas when we visited today (Tuesday) but we have arranged for Elstons (our pest control contractors) to carry out an inspection this Thursday and carry out any necessary treatment.”

Homeless Hostel, March. Flea bites on Charlie's leg. Picture: Steve Williams.Homeless Hostel, March. Flea bites on Charlie's leg. Picture: Steve Williams.

On mice the spokesman said: “We had a report of mice in January. Elstons were called and the hostel was baited (out of the reach of children).

“Elstons monitor the hostel regularly; there is currently no evidence of mice.”

Dan Boyle, a spokesman for the residents, said: “Would you pay to live somewhere with fleas, mice and faulty electrics?

“As adults we can take being bitten, but there are mice running around all over the bedrooms,” he added.

Homeless Hostel, March. Cracks in between bedroom doors. Picture: Steve Williams.Homeless Hostel, March. Cracks in between bedroom doors. Picture: Steve Williams.

“We don’t expect the house to be completely mouse free but we can hear them running around at night.

“My son, Charlie, has bites on his legs as well,” he added. “And the main wall upstairs is so cracked it looks like it might just fall to pieces. The house is just falling apart, but the council don’t seem to want to do anything about it.

“It’s as if they put you in here as quickly as they can, but then just forget about you. They just get you in a place so they don’t have to bother anymore.”

The mid-terraced house has six bedrooms and one flat next door. It is believed to have been built in the early 1960s.

Homeless Hostel, March. Dirt behind chest freezer. Picture: Steve Williams.Homeless Hostel, March. Dirt behind chest freezer. Picture: Steve Williams.

Donna, who also lives in the house, said: “I had to clean the damp off myself.

“We’ve all phoned up the council and they just give you platitudes to keep you happy.

“There are holes in the bathroom cupboard where mice have chewed there way through and you can hear them rushing around in there.”

Darren, another resident, added: “No one deserves to be treated like animals.”

Homeless Hostel, March. Picture: Steve Williams.Homeless Hostel, March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Another resident, Mischa, has been living in the hostel for the last five months; however a cleaner said she knew someone who stayed for a year.

Dan Boyle, his partner Sophie and their son Charlie have lived at the hostel since December 21.

As for the chance of getting out of the hostel, he said: “It’s a lottery really. We bid and just hope someone accepts it.”

The council says PAT testing of electrics is also up to date.

Homeless Hostel, March. Rodent bait box under kitchen units.  Picture: Steve Williams.Homeless Hostel, March. Rodent bait box under kitchen units. Picture: Steve Williams.

“All portable appliances in the hostel are tested and all are up to date,” said the council spokesman.

“They are due every two years, with the next testing due in September.”

On mould and damp he said: “This isn’t clear from the photos. But we will inspect this and take any appropriate action.”

As for cleaning the spokesman said: “The communal areas are cleaned three times a week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“It is up to the residents themselves to clean their own rooms. When a room becomes empty, it is cleaned and not let until this has been done.”

1 comment

  • The hostel hasn't changed then! In there with mum and sister for a long while 18 years ago!! I remember then the place full of mice - mum had to store food in heavy duty boxes in the bedroom as mice would chew through anything else and get through to the food, faeces everywhere, and the noise of them running about at night! And yes fleas also, it wouldn't surprise me if its the same carpetsfurniture and mattresses from then. The most cleaning that got done was a wipe down of the kitchen - my mum used to hoover it so it got done! It's awful enough being in a hostel as s child, but the conditions made it 10x worse! FDC needs to do more!

    Report this comment

    Sarah Chambers

    Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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