Elderly Gazeley fire victims feel “let down and abandoned”

Mr and Mrs Edwards ANL-161210-104900001
Mr and Mrs Edwards ANL-161210-104900001

An elderly couple, who have been made homeless by a fire, claim they have been left living ‘in limbo’ after local housing organisations and social services ignored their pleas for help.

Fomer Royal Navy nurses Robert and Dorothy Edwards have been staying in a Newmarket hotel since the fire, a month ago, destroyed the kitchen, bathroom and half the roof of the bungalow in Mill View, Gazeley, where they have lived for 50 years.

“We’re not just homeless, we’re very, very bitter,” said 85-year-old Dorothy. “Forest Heath Council has always been fast enough to collect our rates and dustbin levy, but no-one wants to know us now we need help.”

“There are apparently three empty bungalows in the sheltered housing estate in Gazeley but despite being of diminished mobility, we apparently do not qualify for residence in any of these homes.”

After the fire, the couple were taken by ambulance to West Suffolk Hospital where they remained for three days while Robert, 86, who was also a magistrate for 40 years, was treated for burns to his head and shoulder, caused when a burning ceiling tile fell on him, and Dorothy for the effects of smoke inhalation. When they were discharged, their insurance company arranged for them to stay at the Premier Inn where it is currently paying the bill. “We feel that we have done our share and now feel let down and abandoned,” said Dorothy. A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council said: “We have been in touch with the family and are continuing to try and support them. In such circumstances, it would be for their insurance company to rehouse them in suitable accommodation.”

A Flagship Housing spokesman said: “As these people lived in a privately owned home and are being housed at the expense of their insurance company, it would not be something we would be involved in.