Family of four living in one-bedroom flat fear their home is collapsing around them in Milton Keynes
A man who has been begging the council to move his overcrowded family for years fears his flat is literally collapsing.
Ainsley Patel says large chunks of render and cladding are falling around his family when they step outside the door of their one bedroom maisonette on Stantonbury.
At one stage it was so bad that he and his partner slept in their car for a couple of nights, after sending the children to stay with relatives.
"We felt safer in our car than we did in the flat," he said. "Every time I go outside another bit of the building has fallen off. When is it going to stop? I'm terrified that one day the whole place will just collapse around us," he said.
"I think it must be subsidence or something. The wood cladding has twisted so much that it's pushing the window out - and there are cracks appearing on the ceiling inside the flat. It just doesn't seem safe to me."
Ainsley and his partner Alannah Osborne sleep on a mattress on the floor in the living room of the Fowler flat. His daughter Elise, who is 11 and has ADHD, shares the only bedroom with her five-year-old brother Nickolai - even though it's recommended that boys and girls over the age of 10 should not share rooms.
"It's very overcrowded. There's no room to do anything," said Ainsley, who said the flat also has problems with mould and damp that affect his son's asthma.
He is his daughter's full-time carer, while Alannah works as a carer for the mental health services.
"We not relying on benefits and we've always paid our rent, but we can't afford the kind of money private landlords want to rent somewhere bigger. So for more than two years I've been asking the council to move us," he said.
Last year MK Council did move the family - but only for six months to enable work to be carried out on the flat. The work included routine repairs and a new kitchen.
"We were moved to a three bedroom house in Bletchley, It was great," said Ainsley. "The house would have been perfect for us."
But just before Christmas the council announced the flat was finished and they had to move back. Despite protesting, they were ordered to leave the Bletchley house.
"We got back to the flat to find they hadn't improved it much at all," said Ainsley. "There was nowhere to wire in a cooker or washing machine, and the smart extractor fan that was meant to stop my son from having asthma attacks from the damp and mould blew up the minute we turned it on".
The situation was so bad that Ainsley and Alannah sent the children to stay with relatives and slept in their car for a couple of nights.
"It was cold, but it was better than the flat," he said.
Since then, the problems with the outside of the flat have increased. But Ainsley says his pleas to the council have fallen upon deaf ears.
"We were apparently put in the top banding to be moved more than a year ago, but nothing had happened," he said.
The Citizen asked MK Council if there were any plans to move the family and how long it would take.
A spokesman told us today: “We are working to find the family a new suitable home as quickly as possible.”