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Watford Community Housing Trust 'very sorry' for dangerous ceiling collapse in Benneck House
A housing association has apologised for not acting fast enough over a dangerous ceiling, which collapsed into the bedroom of two young girls yesterday.
Watford Community Housing Trust said an inspector had examined the bulging ceiling board in the flat in Benneck House, off Tolpits Lane in November, and said it needed to be replaced.
However the order for repairs to the ceiling was only placed this month - four days before the collapse.
Parents Claire Halward and Billy Wolstenholme were having breakfast in their kitchen when the ceiling board crashed down on the room where their daughters Chloe, 1, and Chrystal, 6, sleep and play. The children were with their parents in the kitchen at the time.
The couple have since vented their anger at the delay in fixing the dangerous ceiling, branding it as disgusting.
Gareth Lewis, Director of Property and New Business for Watford Community Housing Trust said: "We express our sympathy to the tenants and we appreciate this must be a worrying time for them. We are doing our best to deal with the situation as speedily as possible.
"The tenant reported a potential problem with the ceiling in November 2012, and an inspector visited the following week. His report requested that the ceiling be renewed, although we did not identify that it was at imminent danger of collapse. The order was placed on 3rd January 2013 and we are very sorry that it took us longer than normal to deal with this."
The family have since also been told the collapse may have exposed some asbestos in the bedroom.
Mr Lewis added: "We have had the ceiling material analysed today and can confirm that none of the ceiling boards contain asbestos, however, Artex has been applied to the ceiling. Artex is a very commonly found textured coating which contains Chrysotile (White Asbestos).
"Generally the percentage of asbestos within the coating is very small and is held within a strong bonding material. The risk of exposure from accidental damage is minimal and would require the material to be sanded to cause any major release. It is very unlikely that any substantial asbestos fibre release occurred when the ceiling collapsed.
"We are currently undertaking further testing to assess the airborne fibre content, however it is expected to be below acceptable limits. In the meantime we have provided alternative accommodation to the family."