‘I shouldn’t have to live like this’

Trevor Willcox's bungalow in Windsor Gardens.
Trevor Willcox's bungalow in Windsor Gardens.

After two-and-a-half years on the housing list waiting for an appropriate home, pensioner Trevor Willcox was allocated a bungalow in Alnwick’s Windsor Gardens last autumn.

So far so good, thought the 66-year-old, who has mobility issues, as his previous home – an upstairs flat – was far from suitable.

But following seven months spent living almost full-time in his bedroom, including eating his meals, due to the cold, Mr Willcox is almost at the end of his tether.

When he first moved in, there was a gas fire in the front room and he spent the first three months calling out the engineer nearly every week – ‘until I was sick of complaining’ – before the back boiler was replaced with a combi boiler.

Despite this, when he tried to heat the living room to a comfortable temperature, he ended up spending £180 a month on his energy bills.

“I just couldn’t afford to keep that up,” he said. “I have been living in the bedroom. I tried it with the heating on, but it just cost too much.”

He claims that the problem with the room is that the cold gets in through the wall cavities, evidenced by the multiple plug sockets which are extremely cold to the touch, but landlord Homes for Northumberland has said that it has done all that it can and ‘there are no obvious causes as to why the property should be cold’.

Mr Willcox has been told he can apply for other homes, but as he is in a ground-floor property, his priority level is much reduced .

He described it as a catch-22 situation, saying: “I don’t want to go back into a flat, I like the place, but it’s getting to the stage where I’m going to have to move.

“I waited two-and-a-half years and it would be a shame, because it’s cost me a fortune, but I can’t stay in here, it’s getting too much.

“I’m even eating my meals in the bedroom.

“It’s just been a nightmare. It’s a lovely area, I like it, but this is too much.

“I have been in Alaska and Russia in the Merchant Navy and I have never known cold like in this room.”

A Homes for Northumberland spokeswoman said: “Officers from Homes for Northumberland have been in contact a number of times in recent months about Mr Willcox’s concerns with the temperature of his home.

“While there are no obvious causes as to why the property should be cold, we have fitted a new central-heating system, replaced the bathroom window, arranged additional draught proofing to other windows and arranged for additional loft insulation to be fitted.

“We also asked an environmental health officer to assess the property and they concluded there was nothing obvious that would prevent the property achieving a comfortable temperature should the central heating be used.

“We have provided Mr Willcox with appropriate advice about how to use his central heating to achieve sufficient warmth as there are no further repairs necessary.”