Blaze victims miss out on emergency housing because person manning emergency number fell asleep

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Two people missed out on emergency housing because the person manning the emergency out of hours number had fallen asleep.

Daniel Capstick-Bedson told the Obby that the Ifield home he shares with his mother, who has health problems, burnt down on Monday night.

Red Cross volunteers and the local fire officer called the Crawley Borough Council out of hours line several times to arrange emergency accommodation, but got no answer.

Mr Capstick-Bedson said the pair of them were left sitting outside their home in Climping Road until 7am.

“The Red Cross men drove us to Crawley Town Hall and they banged on the window until someone opened the door,” he said.

“They spoke to the Deputy Chief Executive of Crawley Borough Council who found out that the man who was on the emergency out of hours number did not respond to the numerous calls from the Red Cross and the Fire Officer because he had fallen asleep and did not hear the emergency phone.

“As of yesterday my mother and I have been put into a hostel which, as my mother said in her own words: ‘I would rather sleep in a tent in the garden of my burnt out house than here.’ “The hostel room they have put us in had just been painted and last night the fumes of the paint gave my mother an asthma attack which required medical treatment.

“There is a washing machine in the hostel which is all full of mould and no one would even wash a builder’s rag in it, let alone their clothes.

“There was a fridge in our room, so we bought some food with a £20 voucher the Citizens’ Advice gave us, only to find out that the fridge does not work so all the food is now ruined, but apparently this is not the council’s problem.

“The heating in this hostel room will not stay on for more then a couple of minutes because the cut out system on the boiler keeps detecting a fault with flue pipe. But in order to deal with paint fumes for my mother to be able to breathe we need to keep doors and windows open all the time.”

He added that they also have a problem with the electricity cutting out if they plug in more than two appliances at once, and that the room had what appeared to be a fire exit, but was locked.

A council spokesperson said: “We have apologised to Mr Capstick-Bedson and his mother for the standard of care and service they received in the early hours of last Tuesday morning.

“We’re reviewing our out-of-hours arrangements in light of this incident.

“The hostel rooms have been fully redecorated and the fridge, washing machine and boiler checked and were all in working order for the letting on 28 August.

“We are sorry to hear that there have been some problems. These can be simply remedied by contacting the hostels team who will fix anything needing repair.

“The door is not a fire door but a rear door from the kitchen area which provides an alternative exit from the room. The ‘fire door’ sign is being removed.”

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