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Mouldy flats 'harm children's health'

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 05, 2014

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FAMILIES living in a block of flats in St Blazey say their children's health is being put at risk by the condition of the building.

Matthew Benney and his partner Jessica Best say their flat at Polgrean Place, where they moved a year ago, has become riddled with black mould which is affecting the health of 21-month-old Kian, who has asthma.

"Our flat's dripping with water," said Mr Benney, 25.

"When we looked around the flat we had some concerns but because we were homeless we couldn't turn it down."

Mr Benney, who has asthma himself, said he had raised his concerns with Ocean Housing, which manages the building, but it had done nothing.

"I ring them and no one seems to even know who we are," he said. "I've been calling them probably three times a week.

"My son was diagnosed with asthma five months ago and the doctors said the damp wouldn't help. It's just getting worse."

Jamie Vague, who lives in one of the flats with his partner Morwenna Cook, said they had suffered continuous problems with moisture and mould.

When their son Aiden became ill the couple feared the problem could hinder his recovery, he said.

"When my son was six weeks old he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and spent two weeks in hospital. We'd only lived in the flat for ten days.

"We didn't want him to have to stay in the flat so my partner and Aiden had to move back in with her mum," he said.

The state of the property had affected his own health: "I've never had any respiratory problems before but now I wake up in the morning and I can barely breathe."

Frances Turner, managing director of Ocean Housing, said she sympathised with the families and claimed the mould problems were caused by condensation.

"The incidence of homes suffering from condensation is on the rise nationally, as many households are struggling to afford heating bills," she said.

"Without adequate heating levels and ventilation, even well-insulated and well-maintained homes will suffer from condensation.

"Fuel poverty is a real problem for many households. We're becoming increasingly concerned at the number of tenants who are struggling to afford the higher fuel costs imposed last winter and again this year.

Mrs Turner said the company ensured its properties had adequate insulation, ventilation and heating: "We are, though, still working with our customers to see if there's anything further we can do to help their situation.

"We'are currently investigating possible storm damage to the property and researching new materials to insulate homes."

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