Mother-of-four opts to stay in fire-ravaged Whittlesey home after housing association feud

A SINGLE mother-of-four has opted to remain in her fire-ravaged home after a housing association offered her an alternative which was 15 miles away and furnished with just bunk beds and a microwave.

Jane Towning was hauled from her burning house, in Crescent Road, Whittlesey, on New Year’s Eve after neighbours found her collapsed in the doorway.

The property has been severely smoke damaged by the blaze, which started when the hob accidentally turned on and set a basket of clothing alight.

But Miss Towning has chosen to remain in the home after Roddons Housing Association said it could only offer her alternative accommodation in Chatteris.

The 29-year-old said: “Roddons has offered me a house with nothing in it but some bunk beds and a microwave. Our home stinks of smoke, the floors and walls are black, a lot of our things have been destroyed and Roddons don’t care.

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“I’m very disappointed with them. They are always quick enough to call if you park on the green or have a complaint made against you.”

Christopher Smith, Roddons’ chief operating officer, said staff had been in “regular contact” with Miss Towning and they were “very sympathetic” to her situation.

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“We visited as soon as we were made aware of the fire and our staff have provided both assistance and support,” he said.

“As part of this we have provided a skip and an allowance towards re-decorating the property.

“We will also be carrying out necessary repairs including renewing the kitchen units and the back door in the very near future.

“Roddons does not have any empty homes in the area which we could move the family into, so we contacted Fenland District Council’s Housing Options Team who were able to immediately offer temporary alternative accommodation.

“We have respected Miss Towning’s preference to remain in the property, and are doing everything possible to make things comfortable for the family.”

Miss Towning said it would be impossible to relocate to Chatteris as her children, aged six, eight, nine and 12, all go to school in Whittlesey. Her parents drove down from Chesterfield last week to help begin the clean-up at her charred home.

Firefighters were called to Whittlesey at about 3.30pm on New Year’s Eve. Miss Towning had returned from an outing with her children to find the fire alarm sounding.

“I dropped the shopping outside and when I opened the door all the smoke came flying out,” she said. “I ran in to get the dogs and told the children to stay out the front and call 999.

“There was only a small flame but there was so much smoke. I saw that the dogs were in the garden and tried to get back to the doorway but then I collapsed.

“I was terrified and it’s so horrible now. All the children’s presents have had to be thrown away because the smoke got to them. They don’t realise why all the toys have gone.”

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