How many other homes in Milton Keynes are subsiding into the clay soil?
The case of an 88-year-old disabled woman forced to quit her council bungalow due to severe subsidence could spark an investigation into hundreds of other homes in Milton Keynes.
The family of the pensioner, who is too scared to be named, say they have spent years complaining to council contractors that the Springfield property was collapsing sideways into the ground.
This month the 1980s-built Walbrook Avenue bungalow has been officially condemned. All along one side is a huge crack, so wide that a man can fit his fist in it.
Inside the bungalow, the rooms are leaning so badly that daylight is visible between the ceilings and the roof.
The wheelchair-user pensioner has lived in the bungalow for 30 years, She is now being moved to Willen.
Her son said: “The council has done nothing over the years apart from try to fill the holes with filler. They’ve left it until it’s so bad has to be moved, which is a terrible upheaval at her age.”
MK Council has offered to pay for a removal company for the tenant, who has heart problems and uses a wheelchair. She has been offered no compensation
Her son has accused the council of trying to hush up the problem, which surveyors say is caused by nearby trees drawing moisture out of the heavy clay soil on which much of MK is built.
A council spokesman told the Citizen that surveyors would now visit neighbouring homes on Springfield to check if they are also subsiding.
He said attempts to deal with the subsidence on the bungalow had proved ineffective.
“We recognise there have been communication issues and offer our sincere apologies. We’re working with the family to arrange new accommodation and minimise any further distress. Survey teams will be visiting all neighbouring properties and we’ll advise residents if any other issues come to light.”
The OAP’s family say an expert surveyor came out five years ago to check the bungalow and informed MK Council it was subsiding into the clay soil. The same surveyor came out recently to condemn the property.
Shocked Springfield councillors say they had not been informed by MK Council about the subsidence case on their doorstep.
Lib Dem Ric Brackenbury said: “This is an awful story and my heart goes out to this lady. I want to know whether there are other properties in my ward where a surveyor has advised the council that trees are causing subsidence, and nothing has happened. The risk of doing nothing is very real and I hope the council can reassure its tenants that vital work will take place.”
Tory Peter McDonald said: “This seems to be another case of council incompetence. I’ll be speaking to officers urgently. If it turns out the council were aware of the subsidence and chose to do nothing about it, I will be pushing for compensation given the very difficult situation this lady is in.”
In 2013 three canalside terraced houses in Waterside on Peartree Bridge had to be demolished because they were subsiding so badly.