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Homes in Goteley Mere, Ashford still suffering from Storm Eunice damage four months on

A row of homes on Ashford’s ‘forgotten street’ are still in need of repair – four months after Storm Eunice ripped cladding from the walls.

Angry residents in Kennington say they can’t understand why Ashford Borough Council is yet to fix the council-owned homes in Goteley Mere off Towers View.

The side of one house was pulled down in the winds
The side of one house was pulled down in the winds

The storm, which hit in February, brought ferocious winds to the borough, ripping part of the roof off County Square shopping centre and damaging countless cars.

But while much of the repair work across the town was completed months ago, homes in Goteley Mere are still missing cladding which was torn off in the storm.

Couple Sean Hill and Christine Bonnisi – who rent privately – are missing their front fence after panels from their neighbour’s council-owned house came loose.

“Our garden is wide open,” Ms Bonnisi said.

“My son’s bike was stolen recently; anyone can get in.

Plants are growing through some of the rubble left behind
Plants are growing through some of the rubble left behind

“We must have contacted the council about 15 times now, and still nothing. You get through to them and they say they’ve got no record of it. We’ve all been calling the council since the day of the storm, it makes us think who’s taking the calls?”

Ms Bonnisi says she contacted the authority very soon after her fence was knocked down, saying she couldn’t let her dog out.

“I was walking home and noticed my dog was with some strangers,” she said.

“The council told me I should keep my dog on a lead and I should pay to get the damage fixed and claim on my house insurance because my house is not owned by the council.

“Although we rent privately, it’s the council property that caused me the damage.”

Christine and Sean's fence was completely destroyed during the storm in February, leaving them having to make a temporary one using bins and broken fence panels
Christine and Sean’s fence was completely destroyed during the storm in February, leaving them having to make a temporary one using bins and broken fence panels

Ms Bonnisi says a contractor was sent round the day after the storm to pull together the rubble that was left behind.

“They just dumped it in our front garden,” she said.

“I had to move the rubble all by myself and I hurt my back doing it. The children play football in my front garden and they could have hurt themselves.

“Why should I be suffering? We’re the forgotten street of Ashford.”

In a statement, a council spokesman said the authority “apologises for the apparent delay in rectifying the damage”.

Just over four months on, the houses are still suffering from the damage caused by Storm Eunice
Just over four months on, the houses are still suffering from the damage caused by Storm Eunice

“We cleared up the debris and made temporary repairs to fencing as soon as possible after the storm which affected a large number of properties,” he said.

“It may be that we have not addressed the weathering issues on certain affected properties and we will be correcting that without further unnecessary delay.

“We are in the process of progressing an insurance claim for the damage caused by the storm.

“The council is looking into whether there is an opportunity to improve properties that have lost cladding by fitting them with external wall insulation as part of the repair process.

“The cladding will be replaced at the earliest opportunity…”

“This would be in line with the council’s carbon reduction and affordable warmth programmes and the aim to ensure all its residential properties achieve energy performance certificate SAP rating of ‘C’ or above.

“We are just finalising a borough-wide survey to determine what measures are recommended to achieve these aims and we are waiting to see the results for these particular properties.

“The cladding will be replaced at the earliest opportunity.”

Elsewhere in Ashford, scores of new-build homes on the Chilmington Green estate were damaged in the storm, with cladding torn off in the 80mph gusts.

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