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My family of four is stuck in a room at a Holiday Inn after sewage flooded our house – advice doesn’t help


A FAMILY of five are living in a cramped hotel room after claiming the council left them with overflowing sewage in their home for over a year.

Danielle Phillips, a mum-of-four, claimed she reported a major toilet leak to Crawley Borough Council in January 2021 but was ignored until July this year.

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The scaffolding at the front of the house was endangered due to sewage overflowCredit: provided
Danielle and her four children have been living with a major leak in their downstairs bathroom for over a year

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Danielle and her four children have been living with a major leak in their downstairs bathroom for over a yearCredit: provided

The 42-year-old was left with overflowing sewage in her three-bedroom house in Broadfield Crawley, affecting the downstairs bathroom, hallway and garden for more than a year before the council involvement.

The family of four were asked on Thursday, October 20, to pack a few things as they would be settled in a hotel but would be in a new home on Monday next week.

However, Danielle was later informed that there would be no properties available until November 2, which was again postponed to November 11 at the earliest.

A distraught Danielle told The Sun: “The problem started when it was raining heavily, the rain was not draining anywhere and was pooling in the garden – I told the council about it but it was ignored.

“My downstairs toilet made massive burping noises and then there was a continuous pumping of other people’s waste into my hallway, my kitchen, my living room, everywhere.

“I myself removed 11 bags of human waste despite it being a biohazard,” Danielle added.

Danielle’s mother, Tracey Willmor, has been by her daughter’s side throughout the nightmare.

She said: “Danielle was on her hands and knees moping about sewage and the council just said lock the door – this door has been locked for 12 weeks.

“A man from Disrepairs came in on September 29, 2022 and said it was awful, he used a moisture machine on the walls and it was on all of them.

“Danielle had pneumonia a few times and the little ones started coughing too, one has since been diagnosed with asthma.”

The sewage affected several rooms and destroyed many pieces of furniture and clothing, including the children’s school uniforms which now need to be replaced.

“For 12 weeks they tried to tell me I needed new flooring and it was a serious job but when they came to fix it they stood there for two minutes and tried to blame my two-year-old daughter by pushing toys into it.

“But they didn’t have a toy to show me,” Danielle added.

All the while, her two sons, ages 13 and 9, and her two daughters, ages 8 and 3, were wading through knee-deep water and having to stand on furniture to move around the house. .

Danielle claimed the council would either ignore her calls or tell her someone would get back to her, but weeks continued to pass without a call.

When a man from Disrepairs finally came to assess the property, he told Danielle they had to evacuate within the next 24 hours.

At the time, there was scaffolding on the front of the house which they were told was in danger as well as the electricity.

Living conditions were so horrendous that the electricity was immediately cut off and the house was deemed “unlivable” – yet Danielle and her four children had been there for over a year.

“It was then that a housing official received an urgent report and we were told that we would be temporarily placed somewhere,” Danielle added.

“But we had been wading through knee-deep water for ages, children literally had to stand on furniture and jump over water to get out of the house.

“The most frustrating thing is that if I had been listened to at the start, it wouldn’t have been so bad, the house wouldn’t have needed so much work,” Danielle continued.

She added: ‘Now it needs a new roof, new flooring and the foundation needs to be reworked because for a month there was so much water.

The family also had to give away their family cat and the devastated mother said the children were “distraught”.

hotel nightmare

Once they were placed at the Gatwick Airport Holiday Inn, Danielle was discouraged to find only one room for the five of them.

“I asked the hotel and council why we were only allocated one room as I have a son who is almost 14 they told me that because I am a single parent and therefore only one adult, I’m not entitled to two rooms.”

The family of four sleeps on two double beds and a futon.

Currently, they do not have a kitchen system in the hotel room and live on meal vouchers provided to Danielle and her eldest son.

“I can’t cook anything in the room or store food because the fridge is so small. There are very few food choices and the kids just don’t eat them.

“I have a kettle, that’s all. No toys, I have nothing.”

“I hand wash anything salvageable in the sink – there’s no place to dry it in the hotel, no heaters,” she added.

Tracey also spoke about the struggles of five people sharing a room.

The 61-year-old said: “She doesn’t have a washing machine or laundromat, I took some of her clothes the other day and I could smell the dampness on them.

“One of his sons has special needs and he really needs his own space where he has time to calm down.

“Her 13, almost 14 year old son feels uncomfortable being in the same room as his mother, but the board said it was okay.”

Homeless at Christmas

Another problem Danielle faces is the possibility of being kicked out of the hotel, which would render her and her children homeless.

With four children, including a toddler and a son with special needs, the 42-year-old has received noise complaints from other hotel guests.

“My son with special needs is very disruptive, very loud and the council said there have been noise complaints.

“All the council says is that if the hotel refuses to accommodate us, they will not help us at all.

“I spoke to a housing manager who is not very reasonable, I don’t think she has a grip on reality.

We had been wading in knee-deep water for ages, kids literally had to stand on furniture and jump over water to get out of the house.”

Danielle Phillips

“She said if we’re told to leave, the board ‘wouldn’t have to help you.'” Danielle said.

Her outraged mother, who also spoke to the housing officer, said: “The housing officer told her not to let her three-year-old cry and to stay out of the house all day and not to use the ‘hotel that evening and to sleep in.

“She also told Danielle to go sit with friends.

“Danielle cries all the time, she phoned me once and had a really bad panic attack which turned into an asthma attack.”

On Saturday, October 28 around 1 a.m., the family was awakened by loud guests.

Danielle felt compelled to take her three-year-old out of the hotel in the early hours because she was too terrified of receiving another noise complaint now that her children were awake.

“Her housing officer said if she was evicted she would become homeless so they wouldn’t find her a home,” Tracey added.

“The kids are really fed up, they don’t have any toys there, the three-year-old doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Tracey continued.

At present, the single mother is struggling with mental health issues which are exacerbated by her current position.

Emotional and tearful, she said: “I have crippling anxiety and PTSD, from something unrelated, but my anxiety is at an all time high.

“I’m sitting in my car with my children because I’m afraid to be in a hotel.”

Danielles’ mother sympathized with her daughter and expressed serious concerns for her mental health as she was diagnosed with severe anxiety.

She tried to help out her grandchildren, buying new school shoes, t-shirts and underwear, as they were only told to pack for a few days and were not allowed to return home.

transportation issues

With the end of midterm, the struggling mother now has to find a way to shell out the money to run several school errands each day, which are longer due to the location of the hotel.

“I’m mentally and emotionally drained, it makes me physically sick when I think about all this, all the stuff I have to deal with.”

Her mother claimed the council repeatedly told her that “it is not our job to bring your children to school” and that it is not their problem.

Danielle’s son with special needs is unable to stay at his school for more than a few hours, which means two trips in a short time.

The same goes for her youngest daughter as she is only in kindergarten half the day.

Her other two children must also be dropped off and picked up at their school.

Now Danielle faces uncertainty about when her children will be in a new home and where they will be for Christmas.

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“I’m just sobbing,” she added.

A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: ‘We are very aware of Ms Phillips’ case and are working hard with the water company to resolve the issue.

“There is more to this case than has been exposed, but it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.

“Our goal will be to get Ms Phillips and her family back to the property as quickly as possible.”

Danielle claimed the council told her to lock the bathroom door until someone could fix the toilet

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Danielle claimed the council told her to lock the bathroom door until someone could fix the toiletCredit: provided
The family of five are crammed into a hotel room and fight for space

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The family of five are crammed into a hotel room and fight for spaceCredit: provided



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