The council failed to make sure her bathroom conversion was suitable
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A disabled woman has won £1,800 from a South London council after a botched bathroom conversion caused her to burn herself on a heated towel rail. A shower room fitted in the unnamed woman’s home by Southwark Council was too small for her to move around on crutches without risking a fall.
The local government ombudsman - which regulates local authorities - said Southwark Council failed to ensure the works completed in December 2018 met the woman’s needs. It criticised the council for leaving the woman, known only as Mrs B, with an unsuitable shower room for 14 months following the works, despite being in a position to carry out works.
Mrs B - a council tenant - asked permission from Southwark to convert her bath into a walk-in shower in December 2017. Mobility issues meant she was struggling to use the bath and had to be carried in and out of it by her husband.
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She and her husband began buying the items for the conversion in late 2017 with the intention of completing the works themselves in early 2018. But their plans were delayed after Mrs B’s housing officer informed her she needed permission from the council before going ahead with the works. The conversion was eventually completed in December 2018 after Southwark gave the go-ahead.
Shortly after the works were finished, Mrs B contacted the council saying she was struggling to move around the shower room because of a lack of space. She said that boxing in the pipes for the shower had left her with very little space and that she had burnt herself on a heated towel rail.
An ombudsman report published on May 5 criticised the council for failing to ensure the adaptations were suitable before carrying them out. It reads: “If the council had put in place suitable adaptations in 2018 as it should have done, Mrs B would not be in the position she now is. The Council’s failure to ensure the proposed works were suitable to meet Mrs B’s needs meant she was left with unsuitable adaptations in December 2018 causing her distress and inconvenience.
“Mrs B raised concerns about lack of space as soon [as] the works were completed in 2018. The council accepted there was a problem but it was not until February 2020 that new specifications were prepared and sent to HAT [Housing Adaptations Team]. This was a significant delay. Shortly after this, restrictions were imposed because of COVID-19 and this inevitably impacted on progress.” Southwark Council has been contacted for comment.
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