Blundering council workers broke into my home before British Gas shut off my electricity – but it was all a mistake
A GRIEVING woman has told how blundering council worker broke into her home before British Gas shut off her electricity after they mixed up her address with her late mum’s.
Sharon Jackson, 56, had informed the Stoke-on-Trent council of her mother’s death on December 6.
She cleared out her mum’s property and returned the keys to the authority and clearly listed the address.
At the bottom of the form Sharon put down her own address and contact details in case there were any queries.
But on December 17 she got a call from a friend – saying that council workers had broken into her home.
She told StokeonTrent Live: "I was at work when I got a phone call, and I was getting lots of messages, saying the council were breaking into my house.
"I had to leave work and go home to find they had broken in through the front door.
“Apparently they had been told that I had done a moonlight flit and the house was empty. There were three vans outside. They had been traipsing through the house.
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"My friend had told them they had the wrong address. By the time I got back, they had gone.
"The front door handle was all loose because they hadn't fixed it properly. I felt unsafe in my own house after 20 years of living there."
Confused, Sharon immediately called the council and was told that there had been a mix-up.
She said: "The woman I spoke to couldn't apologise enough. They sent me a bunch of flowers and said they would compensate me for the time I lost at work, although I haven't received that yet.
"But it shouldn't have happened in the first place. I can't understand how the council could get the address wrong."
Less than a month later Sharon was at home watching TV on January 11 when her electricity and gas suddenly went off.
Sharon explained: "At first I thought it was a power cut but when I looked out I saw it was only my house. I rang British Gas and explained what had happened and they said I had been cut off.
"She said they were told by the council in December that the house was empty and the account had been closed. I have had to open a new account to get it sorted out."
For Sharon the situation has made the time that she should be grieving her mother even more distressing.
She said: "I've not had time to grieve over my mum because I've been so busy sorting out the council's mess. I'm a nervous wreck and I'm crying all the time.
"It has been one phone call after another trying to sort out what's going on. I've even rung Severn Trent to make sure my water isn't going to be cut off as well.
"I'm disgusted by the council's ineptitude."
A city council spokesman said: “Firstly, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Sharon and her family for their loss at this very difficult time.
"We have 18,000 council properties and regrettably a genuine administrative mistake was made on this occasion that incorrectly listed the tenancy for ending, which resulted in a lock change being arranged.
"As part of that process, utility companies are automatically notified at the same time.
"However, we appreciate this shouldn’t have happened and we have spoken to Sharon and apologised unreservedly. We have also told her we will also cover any financial costs incurred.”
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