A Pembrokeshire family has spoken of the devastation felt on returning from their mother’s funeral to find council locksmiths about to change the locks.
Cathleen Wainwright of Haverfordwest died on November 10, at the age of 85.
Her loving family cared for her at her Haverfordwest home during the final months of her life. After she died, they were given just under a month to sort out the council-owned bungalow where she had lived for two decades.
However, after the funeral Mrs Wainwright’s distraught daughter, Tracy returned to the home to find council workers at the property, about to change the locks.
This was only just over a fortnight after she had lost her mum.
Tracy had been her mother’s carer for the last 13 years and had been a live-in carer for the last three years.
“We were told by the council that we had until December 9 to sort out mum’s stuff,” said her brother Paul.
“The council said that they would change the locks on that date and charge us storage if anything was left.
“But they turned up to change the locks on the day of mum’s funeral. If it hadn’t been that my sister was so upset that she had to leave the grave and go back to the house, we would have come back and found ourselves locked out.
“My sister was in pieces over it. It was a shock.”
Paul added that for months before his mother passed away, she was unable to use the toilet or have a shower. The council’s occupational therapist, who he said was ‘brilliant’ had recommended structural work to the council house to make the bathroom accessible, but the work did not get done.
“She couldn’t use the toilet or have a shower for the last six months,” he said. Another family on the same street had the toilet conversion within two weeks.
“We were also supposed to have a mobility aid from the council to push her round on. It came three days before she died.”
Despite these other short falls, it was the visit of the locksmiths on the day of his mother’s funeral that has caused Mrs Wainwright’s children and grandchildren the most upset.
“We want to find out who authorised the changing of the locks on that date,” said Paul. “My sister was distraught at the fact that they went to change the locks when the funeral was on.
“I want to know who authorised the changing of the locks on my mother’s funeral day.”
Pembrokeshire County Council said that it could not comment on individual cases due to client confidentiality.
The authority apologised to Mrs Wainwright’s family for the upset and said it was looking into the matter.
“We can confirm that an internal investigation is being undertaken into the circumstances leading to this situation arising,” said a council spokesperson.
“We apologise to the family for any distress caused.”