Connie, 104, in asbestos nightmare

Connie Mossman with the shed in her Amble garden.
Connie Mossman with the shed in her Amble garden.

A 104-YEAR-OLD woman has spoken of her frustration after being embroiled in an asbestos battle.

Connie Mossman, from Amble, is trying to have a shed removed from the back garden of her Bisley Road home. But the structure’s asbestos roof has stopped the great-grandmother of five in her tracks and she has struggled to find anyone who will remove it.

Concerned town councillor Ian Hinson, who took up her fight, also accused Northumberland County Council of passing the buck after officers initially said they were unable to help.

However, pressure from the Gazette has now resulted in the authority agreeing to send out somebody to assess the situation.

Connie, who has three grandchildren, said: “The shed is an eyesore. It could be a nice place to put a wooden shed up. I would get it knocked down if it wasn’t for the roof. I feel very annoyed about it.”

The county council gave Connie numbers for two firms in Blyth but this proved unsuccessful, while a company based in Manchester said that it would be happy to help, but only once the asbestos had been packed into bags.

Her 74-year-old daughter Gwen Turnbull, also of Amble, added: “It is getting the roof off that is the problem. It is ridiculous. She doesn’t need this stress at her age.”

At Amble Town Council’s meeting last month, it was agreed to contact the county council to see if it could come out and assess the situation, to at least progress the issue.

But clerk Elaine Brown had a response from the county council saying that it was believed that the authority did not employ anyone who was qualified to assess the safe removal of asbestos and that while an environmental health officer from one of the areas may be able to help, it was expected that this level of knowledge and expertise would only be found in the private sector.

However, when the Gazette spoke to the council earlier this week, a spokeswoman for the authority said: “A member of the council’s public protection service would be happy to visit her to provide advice.

“However, because asbestos is a hazardous substance it may be that specialist licensed removal contractors would be needed. Small quantities of carefully-bagged asbestos can be collected by the council’s waste service and disposed of free of charge.”

Coun Hinson had said that he felt that the county council should be able to provide advice and assist in removing hazardous materials.

After learning of the county’s U-turn, he said: “It is a relief that something is happening, as long as it leads to a successful resolution of a problem. I hope that once the spotlight is taken off them, they do see the problem over.”