Council criticised amid widespread infestation at block of flats

Graham O'bree says his mental health has suffered as a result of Swindon Borough Council not doing enough.
Graham O'bree says his mental health has suffered as a result of Swindon Borough Council not doing enough.

Swindon Borough Council has been criticised for not doing enough to tackle a widespread infestation of bed bugs at a sheltered accommodation.

Graham Obree who lives at Gardner House in Park South says he and others have suffered as a result of the infestation.

He says he has been forced to move out and pay to live in a bed and breakfast until the issue gets sorted out.

The council says a specialist contractor is looking to tackle the problem affecting several residents at the 59-flat site.

Mr Obree said: “After a couple of months of being in the flat, my next-door neighbour said she had a few bugs.

“She came into my flat and she found some here too.

“They (the council) did the heat treatment when I was on holiday and as far as they were concerned it was cured.”

Mr Obree then returned to his flat after having a few operations in hospital,  where he discovered blood in his bed.

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“I assumed it was me, but I woke up during the night and I was covered in bed bug bites.”

The 70-year-old said the council had offered him another room in Gardner House, but he had rejected this as he claimed that the bedbugs were everywhere.

“I don’t want to be even near there, I can’t even go in my own flat.

“I’ve even found bed bedbugs in the washing machine and the dryer.

“They say the heat treatment is working, but it’s not there are about 20 people who have had this problem and they’ve had it on numerous occasions.”

On Tuesday, Mr Obree found a letter that had been posted from the office saying the issue is still ongoing.

It read as follows: “As most of you are aware we are still having issues with bed bugs in GH.

“Prokill is doing their best to resolve the issue, so therefore we will need to gain access to all flats on September 29 from 10:30 to put a newly updated monitor into every flat.”

The father of three said he’s now having to live in a bed and breakfast near Swindon town centre.

This has resulted in Mr Obree having to pay Swindon Borough Council rent for the flat and money to stay in the bed and breakfast.

“I can’t keep living in the B&B and paying rent, it’s too much,” Mr Obree said.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “The welfare of our tenants is extremely important to us and we have been doing everything we can to help Mr Obree at this time, including offering him alternative accommodation, which he has declined.

“This is an issue which is affecting a number of the tenants in Gardner House and we have appointed a specialist contractor to treat the problem.

“Our contractor has great experience in dealing with this type of problem and is employing electronic monitoring this week in a bid to eliminate the issue once and for all. We will continue to liaise with all our tenants to support them at this time.”