Danielle Phillips, a mum-of-four, claimed she reported a major toilet leak to Crawley Borough Council in January 2021 but was ignored until July this year.

The 42-year-old was left with overflowing sewage in her three bed home in Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex, affecting the downstairs bathroom, hallway and front garden for over a year before the council intervened.

The family of four were told on Thursday October 20 to pack a few belongings as they would be put up in a hotel but be in a new house by Monday the next week.

However, Danielle was later informed there would be no properties available until November 2, which was delayed again until November 11 at the earliest.

A distraught Danielle told The Sun: “The problem started when it rained heavily, the rain wasn’t draining anywhere and would build up in the garden – I told the council but that got ignored.

“My downstairs toilet made massive burping noises and then there was a continuous pumping of other peoples waste all in my hallway, kitchen, front room, everywhere.

“I removed 11 bags of human waste myself despite it being a biohazard,” Danielle added.

Danielle’s mum, Tracey Willmor, has been by her daughter’s side throughout the nightmare.

She said: “Danielle was on her hands and knees moping raw sewage up and the council just said lock the door up – that door was locked up for 12 weeks.

“A Disrepairs man came on September 29 2022 and said it was awful, he used a machine for damp on the walls and it was on all of them.

“Danielle has had pneumonia a few times and the little ones started coughing too, one has since been diagnosed with asthma.”

Sewage waste affected several rooms and destroyed a lot of furniture and clothing – including the children’s’ school uniforms that now need replaced.

“For 12 weeks they tried telling me I needed new flooring and it was a serious job, but when they came to fix it they were in there for two minutes and tried to blame my two-year-old daughter shoving toys down it.

“But they didn’t have a toy to show me,” Danielle added.

All the while her two sons aged 13 and 9, along with her two daughters aged 8 and 3, were wading through knee-high water and having to stand up on furniture to move around the house.

Danielle claimed the council would ignore her calls or tell her someone would get back to her, yet weeks continued to go by with no call.

When a Disrepairs man finally came to assess the property he told Danielle they needed to evacuate within the next 24 hours.

At the time, there was scaffoliding on the front of the house which they were told was at risk as well as the electrics.

Living conditions were so horrific the electricity was cut off immediately and the home was deemed “unliveable”- yet Danielle and her four children had been there for over a year.

“It was then a housing officer was given an urgent report and we were told we would be temporarily placed somewhere,” Danielle added.

“But we had been wading through knee-deep water for ages, the children literally had to stand up on furniture and jump over water to get out of the house.

“The most frustrating thing is if I had been listened to at first it wouldn’t be this bad, the house wouldn’t need so much work,” continued Danielle.

She added: “Now it needs a new roof, new flooring, and the foundations need worked on because over a month there was so much water.”

The family have also had to give away their family cat and the devasted mum said the kids are “distraught.”

Hotel nightmare

Once they were placed in the Gatwick Airport Holiday Inn, Danielle was disheartened to find only one room for the five of them.

“I asked the hotel and council why we were only allocated one room as I have a son who is very nearly 14, they told me because I am a single parent and therefore only one adult, I don’t qualify for two rooms.”

The family of four are sleeping on two double beds and a futon chair.

Currently they have no cooking system in the hotel room and are living off meal vouchers provided to Danielle and her eldest son.

“I can’t cook anything in the room, or keep any food because the fridge is so small. There are very limited food choices and the children just aren’t eating them.

“I’ve got a kettle that’s it. No toys, I’ve got nothing.”

“I’m handwashing anything that was salvageable in the sink by hand – there’s no where to dry it out in the hotel, no radiators,” she added.

Tracey also talked about the difficulites of five people sharing one bedroom.

The 61-year-old said: “She has no washing or laundry facilities, I took some of her clothes the other day and I could smell damp on them.

“One of her sons has special needs and he really needs his own space where he has time to calm down.

“Her 13, nearly 14 year-old son feels uncomfortable being in the same room as his mum but the council have said it’s acceptable.”

Homeless at Christmas

Another problem Danielle is facing is potentially being kicked out of the hotel, which would make her and her children homeless.

With four children, including a toddler and a son with special needs, the 42-year-old has been receiving noise complaints from other hotel guests.

“My son with special needs is very disruptive, very loud and the council said there’s been noise complaints.

“All the council say is if the hotel refuse to have us they won’t help at all.

“I spoke to a housing manager who is not very reasonable, I don’t think she has a grasp on reality

We had been wading through knee-deep water for ages, the children literally had to stand up on furniture and jump over water to get out of the house.”

“She said if we are told to leave the council ‘won’t be obliged to help you’,” claimed Danielle.

Her outraged mum, who has also spoken to the housing manager, claimed: “The housing manager has told her not let her three-year-old cry and to stay out of the house all day and just use the hotel in the evening and to sleep in.

“She also told Danielle to go sit around at friends’ houses.

“Danielle is just always crying, she phoned me once and was having a really bad anxiety attack which turned into an asthma attack.”

On Saturday October 28 at around 1am the family were woken up by noisy guests.

Danielle felt compelled to take her three-year-old outside the hotel in the early hours because she was too terrified of receiving another noise complaint now her children were awake.

“Her housing manager said if she’s kicked out then she’s making herself homeless so they won’t get her a house,” added Tracey.

“The kids are totally fed up, they’ve got no toys there, the three year old doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Tracey continued.

At present, the single mum is struggling with mental health issues that are being exacerbated by her current position.

Emotional and crying she said: “I’ve got crippling anxiety and PTSD, from something un-related but my anxiety is at an all-time high.

“I’m sitting in my car with my children because I’m worried about being in the hotel.”

Danielles mum sympathised with her daughter and expressed serious concern for her mental health as she has been diagnosed with severe anxiety.

She has tried to lend a helping hand to her grandkids, buying new school shoes, t-shirts and underwear as they were only told to pack for a few days and have not been allowed back into their house.

Transport worries

With half-term ending, the struggling mum now has to find a way to fork out for money to complete multiple school-runs every day, which are longer due to the location of the hotel.

“I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted, it makes me feel physically sick when I think about it all, just how much I’ve got to sort out.”

Her mum claimed the council have told her several times that is it “not our job to get your kids to school” and it is not their problem.

Danielle’s son with special needs in unable to stay at his school for more than a few hours which means two trips in a short space of time.

The same goes for her youngest daughter as she is in pre-school for only half the day.

Her other two children also require being dropped off and picked up from their schools.

Now Danielle faces uncertainty about when her children will be in a new home and where they will be for Christmas.

“I just sob,” she added.

A Crawley Borough Council spokesperson said: “We are very aware of Ms Phillips’ case and are working hard with the water company to rectify the issue.

“There is more to this case than has been set out, but it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.

“Our focus will be to return Ms Phillips and her family back to the property as quickly as possible.”

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *