Leeds couple ‘at breaking point’ over council house move delay after brain stem stroke

Outrage: Tenants Ruth Haslam, 27, and Thomas Whittaker, 35, at their home in Harehills, Leeds.
Outrage: Tenants Ruth Haslam, 27, and Thomas Whittaker, 35, at their home in Harehills, Leeds.
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A Leeds man whose partner suffered a stroke has criticised the council after uncovering a string of a problems following their delayed move into their council house that has left them at “breaking point”.

Council tenants Thomas Whittaker, 35, and Ruth Haslam, 27, both worked full-time until Ruth suffered a brain stem stroke, when she was 23-years-old.

They are currently living in a council property in Harehills.

Miss Haslam was left with limited speech and mobility, and the couple claim that they have been on a waiting list to move to a new prospective council house in Tingley that should have been adapted for disabled access ahead of their arrival.

But her partner, who is now her full-time carer, said that the already-delayed 10-month wait for the move has now caused them a mountain of stress and prompted mental health issues after discovering that their new home had no heating because of a faulty boiler, when they finally got the keys last week.

“We are at breaking point,” Mr Whittaker said.

“I have been up most nights with Ruth being upset, she doesn’t want to go out because of all this.

“She has looked forward to moving that much and they have just delayed it.

“There’s been no correspondence, I have had to fight tooth and nail yet again for another council house.”

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said the local authority is working to resolve outstanding issues as soon as possible.

Mr Whittaker said that their current house in Harehills had also had issues with the property.

He said, after seeing the new home in Tingley for the first time last week, that other concerns include work on the kitchen not being completed, rubble left outside the house and unsuitable access for his partner.

“It’s more worrying for me because all I’m trying to do is rehabilitate my partner,” Mr Whittaker said.

“This is just causing us more pain. I feel like I’m a laughing stock.”

Mr Whittaker said he now wanted to speak out about the delays and issues with the house move, to “stand up and be counted” for other couples dealing with disabilities.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said that some elements of work on the couple’s prospective council house in Tingley were out of their “direct” control.

The spokesman said: “The safety of our tenants is our primary priority and dealing with these safety issues, as well as some elements of work outside of our direct control, have led to delays in this case for which we have apologised.”

“We will continue to work with the tenants and contractors involved to ensure any outstanding issues are rectified as soon as possible.”