Fury after house fire

FURIOUS neighbours of fire-damaged house on an Ipswich estate today claimed the council had known it was a disaster waiting to happen for almost a year.

FURIOUS neighbours of fire-damaged house on an Ipswich estate today claimed the council had known it was a disaster waiting to happen for almost a year.

Firefighters were called to the house in Swinburne Road after a smoke alarm alerted neighbours to a fire on the stairwell.

No one has lived in the house for almost a year - the last tenant moved out in June - but no one else has been allocated the house.

Neighbour Janet Eaton said people in the area were very angry about the situation: “We hear all this about a housing crisis but there's a perfectly good council house sitting there empty for more than a year.


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“The last tenants were on housing benefit and that is still being paid for the house. Doesn't the department handling the housing benefit talk to those managing the homes?

“I've heard that the council has to wait a year before it can re-let the house. That seems ridiculous.”

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Residents were angry because the homes in Swinburne Road had been updated with double glazed windows and new kitchens two years ago.

Other tenants take obvious pride in their homes, but this house has an overgrown front garden and rubbish thrown at the back.

The cause of the blaze was investigated by fire service investigators and the police but neighbours think it may have been started by an intruder who got into the house.

Mrs Eaton said: “My neighbours have seen a young man hanging around the back garden when it's getting dark and there was a window smashed in the front of the house a week or so back.

“I've been on to the council time after time. I've contacted the local councillor by e-mail again this morning. It's just not right the way this has been handled.”

Council leader Liz Harsant said the situation sounded completely unacceptable and she would be asking housing officials to look into the problems at the house as a matter of urgency.

“This is the first I have heard of these problems in Swinburne Road, but it is clearly something that needs to be sorted out.

“It's not right that people who take a pride in their homes should suffer like this - and it is not right to leave a good house empty for a year when there is a need for family homes.”

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