Sit-in protest gets heating fixed

Stephanie Janes endured a festive freeze for two weeks because of a broken heating system. But with weather forecasters predicting a looming cold snap, the single mother decided if the heat would not come to her, she would go to the heat - at her landlord's Wherry Housing Association's headquarters.

It was a victory for direct action. Stephanie Janes endured a festive freeze for two weeks because of a broken heating system.

But with weather forecasters predicting a looming cold snap, the single mother thought enough was enough and decided if the heat would not come to her, she would go to the heat - at her landlord's Wherry Housing Association's headquarters.

And a few minutes after she began her sit-in protest, wrapped in her sleeping bag in the office doorway, her cold front paid off as an engineer rushed to her home at Hellesdon, near Norwich, to fix the faulty system.

It took a fortnight to investigate and 20 minutes to fix but it led to a happy New Year for this Norfolk childminder.


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Ms Janes, who has been a Wherry Housing tenant since 1999, explained: “An engineer came out on December 18 and said the pump was broken but promised to come back the next day and fix it. He didn't return the next day or the one after but I was promised they would come and fix it on Friday. When they still hadn't arrived, I phoned the office and found they had shut for Christmas.

“We only had a little portable heater for the whole house and I have had to cancel childminding jobs because of it - you can't look after children in a cold house.

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“And with cold weather predicted I had to send my daughter to her dad's to stay.

“It is worst in the early morning because I can't leave the heater on overnight.”

After waiting most of yesterday morning for Wherry to get in contact, Ms Janes decided to take direct action.

She said: “I gave them enough chances to sort it out so I plonked myself in the doorway where lots of people could see me - and at least it was warm in the office.

“Shortly afterward I got a call to say the engineer was at my house.”

Ms Janes also said her 12-year-old daughter Shannon's skin condition was irritated by the situation.

Mark Jones, managing director of Wherry Housing, last night apologised and described the situation Ms Janes found herself in as “unacceptable”.

He said: “We received a call from Mrs Janes on December 18 to report that her heating system was not working. An order was placed with our contractors immediately to repair the faulty system. The contractor attended the property later that day but discovered that parts were needed to complete the repair. The contractor left portable heaters with Mrs Janes to ensure she had some heating in her property.

“The contractor was booked to return to the property on December 19 to fit the parts, a new pump and valve, but failed to attend on that date.

“The repair has now been carried out and the heating system is fully functioning.

“We have offered a full apology to Mrs Janes and will be carrying out a thorough investigation of this incident with our contractor. Service failure of this nature is totally unacceptable to both us and our residents.”

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