Sewage forces couple out of home for two years

Image caption Pat and Donna Workman say they may now have to live in a caravan

A family who left their home two years ago after it was contaminated by fuel and sewage are demanding action from those they hold responsible.

Pat and Donna Workman believe work carried out by the local authority is to blame for their situation.

They said it cost them their life savings, with an estimated £250,000 clean-up bill for their Cardigan home.

Ceredigion council said it was continuing to work to resolve the situation and was offering advice.

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Mr and Mrs Workman said they began to notice problems with damp at their home after asphalt was laid on an adjacent lane in 2013.

The work was part of a refurbishment programme on Ceredigion council buildings.

An extra toilet was also installed in the council building, leading to sewage overflows leaking into the ground around their home, the couple said.

They said surveys of their property pinpointed the road-surfacing as the cause of damp.

Image caption Land under the house has become contaminated by fuel and sewage

In 2017, they began smelling petrol fumes in the house.

Investigations revealed a fuel line at a neighbouring petrol station had been damaged.

The garage owner, Peter Williams, has accused the council of being responsible for damaging pipes during the refurbishment project – but said that has been rejected by the authority.

“The council said we had to move out because it’s unsafe,” said Mr Workman.

“We’ve been out for two years. We’ve been paying £600 rent and also paying the mortgage in this house which we can’t live in.

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“All the land underneath the house and around the house has been contaminated.”

Image caption The Cardigan couple were forced to leave their home two years ago

The Workmans said the council offered to pay half the cost of rental accommodation for the first six months.

“After that, they expected us to take a mortgage break, so to stop paying the mortgage,” said Mr Workman.

Now, with all their savings gone, the couple said they are considering living in a caravan next to the house.

“All we want is for them to to pay for our accommodation somewhere else, because we don’t know how long this is going to last.

“It could last six years – it could take 60 years,” added the couple.

Image caption “Great sympathy” for the family, says garage owner Peter Williams

Mr Williams said he remained in a legal dispute with the council over the pipe issue, and was convinced their work was responsible for causing the damage.

“They’re saying it’s my fault, and I’m saying it’s not,” he said.

“We’re at stalemate. It’s dragging on and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I think the council should be responsible for it.”

He said he had great sympathy for the Workman family: “I’ve seen the family grow up. They’ve been good neighbours to me.”

Image caption Ceredigion council says it is still trying to resolve the situation

In a statement, Ceredigion council said it was “sympathetic” to the Workman’s situation and remained committed to offering advice and assistance.

“The council is also working towards resolution of the contamination issue, but the matter remains extremely complex with a number of technical obstacles present, as well as a number of different parties involved.”

The authority said it had commissioned detailed investigations of the site and is considering all available options to enable the family to return to their home.

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