Family told to stay out of loft after shock asbestos find

Broken cement-asbestos sheets in the disused water tank

SPECIALIST contractors are being sent to remove potentially hazardous asbestos from the loft of a home in Knaphill, after a shock discovery of the material by the tenant.

The removal has been ordered by New Vision Homes housing association, which has told Tim Noel and his family to keep out of the loft until it has been decontaminated.

Mr Noel, his partner Verena and their two girls – now aged 14 and 18 – moved into the three-bedroom semi-detached house in Nursery Road nearly five years ago.

At that time, he was given a report which said there was asbestos in the loft, and he found a small cement-asbestos sheet fixed to the chimney breast. But he has now found that a disused water tank is full of broken asbestos sheeting.

“The tank was covered with an old, tatty blanket and I hadn’t paid much attention to it,” said Mr Noel. “I’m renovating the bathroom and had to get to the water pipes in the loft, which is when I moved the blanket and found the smashed-up asbestos.

“I know that asbestos sheeting is safe when it’s intact, so wasn’t worried about the piece on the chimney breast. But asbestos is dangerous when it’s broken up and fibres from it are breathed in. I’ve been a skip lorry driver and know the dangers.”

Mr Noel informed New Vision Homes (NVH) about his discovery three weeks ago and was told he would be contacted about the problem. “No-one called me back, which is a disgrace considering their negligence in allowing the asbestos to be left in the loft.”

The asbestos sheet on the chimney breast that Tim Noel believed the NVH report referred to

He said he had been considering withholding his rent and using the money to pay for specialist removal himself.

“We run a stall at car boot sales, where my daughters have helped out. We keep the items for sale in the loft and they have both been up there many times.

“I’m concerned about my family’s health. I suffer from skin rashes and blisters which my GP has not been able to diagnose and which might have been caused by the asbestos.”

NVH, which manages Woking Borough Council’s social housing, arranged the removal after being contacted by the News & Mail.

A spokesman for the association said this week: “New Vision Homes works hard to ensure that we respond to the needs of our residents. We are committed to supporting our residents and can confirm that in this instance the removal of material has been booked by New Vision Homes, and will be carried out by specialists.”

Mr Noel and his family are waiting to be told whether family possessions stored in the loft can be decontaminated.

“There are a lot of the girls’ toys and clothes from their younger days in boxes in the loft,” he said. “I have been told that anything with a soft surface will have to be thrown away, so that means things like the first baby socks will have to go.”

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