GP slams ‘unacceptable’ state of council flat after sick baby is surrounded by vermin and mould

Parents Jenny Sheehan and Roy Burstow have seen their daughter Poppy-Leigh's health deteriorate due

Parents Jenny Sheehan and Roy Burstow have seen their daughter Poppy-Leigh's health deteriorate due to mould at their 'nightmare' council flat in Swiss Cottage. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The state of council housing in Camden has been branded by a GP as “unacceptable” after a one-year-old baby has been left suffering lung infections from mouldy walls and a mouse-infested cot.

Mould that plagues the family's flat is contributing to the one-year-old daughter's ill health

Mould that plagues the family's flat is contributing to the one-year-old daughter's ill health - Credit: Archant

The parents of baby girl Poppy-Leigh say repeated warnings to the council over the appalling state of their studio flat in Hilgrove Road, Swiss Cottage, have “gone unheard” for more than three years.

This includes a letter from the family GP in January, saying the 22-month-old’s respiratory tract infections were being made worse by the mould, and that conditions in the home were “unacceptable for a one-year-old girl”.

The tiny apartment sees the young family eat, sleep and live in one room that opens onto a rat-infested backyard.

The flat’s walls are blackened with mould, the central heating doesn’t work, carpets are littered with mice droppings, and the family say they are also at risk of electrocution from a faulty shower.


You may also want to watch:


As a result they have been reduced to washing themselves in the sink for more than a week.

Mother Jenny Sheehan, who had to be prescribed anti-depressants because of having to suffer for so long, said: “It’s been a nightmare and after three years I’m just in tears and have had enough.

Most Read

“When my partner and I first moved in we weren’t too bothered.

“But now we have a child who is getting ill and whose cot has mouse droppings in it. We have to get something done.

“The mice and mould inside mean I can’t let her crawl around on the floor and the rats outside mean she can’t go out in the garden.

“My partner also works night-shifts so we have to leave the house during the day to let him sleep. I spend just hours sitting in a library, not knowing what to do with her.

“My partner also has a child from a previous relationship who visits, so then it gets even more crowded.

“I’m worried about the coming winter. The central heating doesn’t work and my daughter’s already started to cough and sneeze.

“We haven’t been able to shower for a week.

“The council has just been dragging its feet the whole time.”

On one occasion when Ms Sheehan called the council to complain about a burning smell from the shower, a council officer said it would not send a replacement “unless there was smoke”.

“Soon after that phone call my partner was in the shower and there was a huge bang,” she said.

“Wires had been burnt through. I was scared of washing my baby in there and it was lucky my partner wasn’t electrocuted.”

A council spokesman said: “Extractor fans have previously been fitted in the kitchen and bathroom areas and advice has been given on how to manage and reduce the effects of condensation.

“A new shower unit is currently being fitted.

“Ms Sheehan moved to her home as a single person. We have asked her to provide some additional details about the impact of her housing on her health and will assess these as soon as possible.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter