Council: Horrific state of some of Calderdale's homes - including collapsing ceilings and black mould - shared in wake of little boy's death

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Collapsing ceilings and black mould show the shocking condition of some of Calderdale’s rented homes – similar to conditions which saw a two-year-old boy die in a nearby town, councillors heard.

Calderdale councillors said conditions which led to Rochdale child Awaab Ishak’s death must be prevented and spoke about instances they had seen.

Coun Sue Holdsworth (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said she, ward colleague Coun Christine Prashad (Lib Dem) and Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) helped at a food bank and had users seeking their advice – in one example showing them photographs of mould all over their flat.

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“In fact that matter was resolved after intervention from Coun Prashad – the landlord, a private landlord, did clean and redecorate the flat.

Councillors shared the shocking state of houses they had seenCouncillors shared the shocking state of houses they had seen
Councillors shared the shocking state of houses they had seen

“It is something that has a great impact on our local residents.”

Coun Audrey Smith (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said when she worked at Calderdale’s St Augustine’s Centre with asylum seekers, “some of the housing was appalling".

“In fact so bad that we took part in a Government inspectorate report on housing provided to people seeking asylum in Calderdale,” she said.

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“We sent photographic evidence of ceilings collapsing, black mould over walls – and finding someone who was interested in dealing with it was a very, very hard thing to do.”

Cabinet member with the housing portfolio, Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said responses must be robust.

“It’s not acceptable that failures happen, whether that’s the private rented sector or in social housing.

“When we look at pictures of that little boy and understand that this was something that needn’t have happened to him, it should be incumbent upon us that we make sure we come together, that it never happens again to anyone, in Calderdale or elsewhere,” he said.

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Coun Roisin Cavanagh (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said often people from disadvantaged backgrounds were not listened to and this had to change.

An emotional Coun Joe Thompson (Lab, Town) spoke about housing issues a close relative had faced in another authority and Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) said the boy who died was born a few months after his own daughter “just a few miles down the road, but a world away…how can we possibly get to that situation in 2022?”

It was not just a case of just sending off emails or doing the case work.

“It’s actually listening and saying what can we do more about that,” he said.

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Coun Thompson said the council’s scrutiny boards needed to get across everything with the social and private rental housing sectors.

Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) agreed: “Predominantly it lies with the housing associations and the landlords and that is where we need to drill down.”

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said there were instances with social housing providers where people had taken properties, claiming for benefits but not occupying them – homes which could be used for those in dire need of them, so how these were managed needed examination.

All parties supported the call at full council for the authority to review its own responses and ability to resource environmental health services, better inform landlords and tenants on how to tackle damp and consider the response of social housing providers.

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