Boxing Day blues for Romford couple as kitchen ceiling collapses

Keith Porter in the kitchen in his and his partner's Louise Hart flat where the ceiling caved in on

Keith Porter in the kitchen in his and his partner's Louise Hart flat where the ceiling caved in on boxing day - Credit: Archant

One couple received an unwanted Christmas present they couldn’t take back when the ceiling collapsed in their kitchen.

Louise Hart and her partner Keith Porter’s three-year battle with damp and leaks coming from the flat above them came to a head on Boxing Day as they were preparing to welcome guests.

That week, the council had twice tried and failed to gain entry to the flat above, where the water was coming from, when Louise called the authority again on Christmas Eve because the ceiling had become bowed.

Workmen forced their way into the flat above to switch off the water, but according to Louise, told the pair the ceiling couldn’t be removed because the workmen wanted to carry out an asbestos test.

Christmas Day passed without incident, but things came crashing down on Boxing Day, quite literally.

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“Keith was in the kitchen cooking and I was getting the house ready,” explained Louise. “Then a large piece fell down. It was the first time we’d had people over but when they got here we just had to decamp.

“We went to my parents but we couldn’t stay the night so we had to come back to the flat.

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“The workmen had said on Christmas Eve they wanted an asbestos test so we were worried.”

An engineer came out the next day and told the pair nothing could be done because “it’s Christmas,” according to Louise.

Cllr Damian White, cabinet member for housing and deputy leader of Havering Council, said the council did attend on Boxing Day: “On emergency call outs, our role is to make the room safe and habitable. This was done on Boxing Day when we received the call. On December 30 we went back to the flat to start the repair work.”

The council said it made sure that Ms Hart’s celling was secured, delivered two dehumidifiers and put £50 on her electric key.

“They put £40 on,” argued Louise. “And that was to run the dehumidifiers. I had to argue with them about that because I wasn’t going to pay to dry the room because the ceiling collapsed.

“And they only made the ceiling secure after it had collapsed.”

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