Couple whose home was almost destroyed by sinkhole offered £200 for cleaning products

Stephen and Maureen Kennedy, 72, were forced to evacuate their home on Walmer Street, Manchester, after a sinkhole left a scene of utter devastation before returning to the house which they now feel unsafe in

A couple whose home was almost destroyed by a sinkhole say they were offered a £200 council grant towards cleaning products.

Stephen and Maureen Kennedy were forced to evacuate their home on Walmer Street after a sinkhole left a scene of utter devastation.

The hole first appeared on the evening of January 20 after Manchester was battered by Storm Christoph.

It swallowed a car before going on to collapse two properties the following day, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Manchester City Council handed those affected £3,400 in emergency food payments in the weeks following the disaster.

But the couple, both aged 72, feel they have now been left to fend for themselves.

They have now both moved back into their property – fearing it’s not safe for habitation.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News , Stephen said: “The side of the hous

“Our neighbour’s front door and the back kitchen door is the only thing holding my property up.

“My house needs to be rendered completely.

“My brother said I can’t live here. But what can I do?

“I can’t believe they treat people like this.”

The couple say the council carried out a survey of the property to ensure it was not dangerous on October 29.

However, the checks do not count as a full structural survey, something the residents would have to pay for themselves for peace of mind.

The pair were offered £200 to go towards transport, cleaning and other moving costs.

But they say this is nowhere near enough to fix the damage done.

Stephen continued: “They offered me a £200 grant towards cleaning which I thought was an insult.

“This was a week before the council came to check it.

“I accepted that £200 last week and I still don’t have it.

“The incompetence is deplorable.

“We have suffered enough and we’re still not out of the woods yet.

“It’s just ruined everything.”

The couple, who have owned the property for 40 years, claim they had no gas when they eventually returned to the home on November 7.

They say the property is also infested with damp and flies – fearing the issues may take a serious toll on their health.

“I think it’s affected my chest,” Stephen continued.

“We had no gas and I had to sort the Wi-Fi and phone line out as someone had cut through it. You could not make this stuff up.

“When I first saw it, I thought it was just a broken sewer and the work would be done in a few weeks.

“But they found more stuff, and more stuff, and it’s just gone on and on.

“It’s had a major effect.

“If I were to put my house on the market, would it sell?

“Who would buy this house? It’s knocked a hell of a lot of value off my property.”

Cllr Tracey Rawlins, Manchester City Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We understand completely that this has been very frustrating for residents who were evacuated when the road collapsed, and our priority has always been to ensure the road was repaired as quickly as possible – initially by United Utilities (UU) and completed by the Council.

“The underground conditions proved far more complex than UU or the Council could have anticipated and therefore the work to repair the road has taken longer than expected. We can only apologise for the disruption to these residents’ lives, but it was important the repair was done properly, and safely.

“ Thankfully the repair work is now completed and following inspection by the Council’s Building Control team to ensure there are no safety concerns, where it is possible, we are working with residents to support them to return to their homes.

“The Council is still awaiting the results of a third-party geotechnical survey that will help understand the cause of the sink hole and we have promised to keep residents updated as much as possible.”