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'Asbestos-riddled flat is poisoning me' says pensioner

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: January 15, 2013

By David Shepherd

  • Peter Bearder with a lump of what he thinks might be the deadly blue asbestos, below, surveying his bathroom ceiling marcus thompson

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A PENSIONER from Crediton fears for his health because his council flat is riddled with one of the most toxic types of asbestos.

Peter Bearder, 67, has lived at Brays Close for seven years and says there are traces of the mineral within the wall cavities in almost every room.

He claims a vent in his kitchen has not been fitted property and remains permanently open, resulting in traces of the substance being blown onto his work surfaces.

Mr Bearder said blue asbestos was contained within the southern wall of his kitchen.

He said: "The vents don't work because of bad workmanship and all of the surfaces where I prepare my food get contaminated by asbestos dust. When a workman took off the vent, he told me it should not be like that, and it has been poisoning me since I moved in there.

"I was told that as long as I don't touch it, it's safe, and I don't think that can be further away from the truth.

"It is in the entire building and it should be removed. It should have been done and dealt with," he added.

Following a complaint by Mr Bearder, Mid Devon District Council commissioned a survey to be carried out by Asbestos Management Specialists, of Barnstaple, which found asbestos in his lounge, bedroom, corridor and kitchen.

A Mid Devon officer and Crediton district councillor John Downes met Mr Bearder at the property last March when he said that he wanted a new vent, a copy of the report (which has since been given to him) and for the authority to agree he has been exposed to dangerous asbestos.

The notes from the meeting were given to housing chiefs, said Mr Bearder, but he had yet to receive a response despite follow-up emails.

A Mid Devon council spokesman said an order was raised to carry out the removal of the stored asbestos, which was taken from an enclosed vent by the tenant himself.

He added: "That was along with an 'environmental clean' of the asbestos insulating board debris to the window sill areas within the kitchen, which were alleged to have come from falling debris when the external soffit was being replaced. However, access has been denied by Mr Bearder to allow this work to be carried out.

"On numerous occasions, we have been advised by Mr Bearder that he has put the matter into the hands of his solicitor and that he would not discuss or allow the removal of the stored evidence.

"We believe that the concerns raised at the meeting on March 29 have been dealt with but we will review the situation and provide Mr Bearder with a written response to his concerns if this is not the case.

"A number of council properties and, indeed private housing across Mid Devon, may have asbestos-containing materials in their construction and, managed properly, do not need approval," the spokesman added.

Mr Bearder denied that he had refused council staff entry to his flat but that he did not want them "coming backwards and forwards." He said: "I just want it all done."

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