A FAMILY of five are fearing for their safety after inch-wide cracks appeared in their council house.

And Freshbrook couple David and Becki Boase, who have three children under the age of 12, have branded the local authority ‘negligent’ over the time it has taken to respond to the problem.

The property the pair have called home for almost seven years is sinking. Along with cracks in every room, the front door to the house was left unlockable, windows couldn’t be closed, the tenants are currently unable to use the central heating and have been told they could be exposed to asbestos.

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The Boases – who run a forest school – first reported the matter to Swindon Borough Council 12 months ago.

David, 37, said: “It was about a month since we reported the first cracks for somebody to come out and take a look.

“By the time they had, at the end of summer, the land had dried up and cracks had opened even more.

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“A repairs surveyor came out and basically said they’ll remedy the issues.”

“First they contested that the door lock wasn’t to do with the subsiding,” David added. “Somebody came out and fixed those issues and we were told the place would be monitored, which never happened.”

The family were told they could live alongside the cracks until they were fixed, but a say a later report from the council said a hole in the bedroom ceiling may be an asbestos risk, despite it being reported a year ago.

David said: “If it’s an asbestos risk now, then it has been for the past 12 months.

“Our concern is the house is falling down and asbestos is potentially affecting us and our children.

“If anything is going to happen we’re potentially going to have a building site over Christmas, which is fine, but we need to start thinking about if they’re going to move us out. The closer that is to winter, the worse that is going to be.”

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Progress from the council has been so slow that the family started marking the movements themselves, writing on the walls dates and times of when the cracks had become bigger or longer.

“If there’s a case of negligence here then that has to be the responsibility of the council,” David said.

“If they have seen something and realise there’s a problem and they don’t do anything to fix it then that’s their responsibility.”

When the family moved in to the house in December 2012, they did notice a crack in the front wall but were assured that the structure was safe.

Becki, 36, said: “We were originally told to wait over the winter and spring to see how the house settles and I think their plan was to just fill in the gaps and to not look at it any further.”

Due to the structural damage to the house, a hole has appeared at the side of the kitchen window.

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“We can’t use heating because of it,” Becki said. “At the moment it’s okay because it’s still fairly mild but come November when the temperature drops, we will need the heating.”

The council has assured the Boases they are not at risk of harm and plans are in place to make cosmetic repairs this week.

A spokesman said: “After a survey of this property was conducted approximately 12 months ago, it identified very minor cracking and monitoring arrangements were put in place.

“We asked our tenants to give us a call if the cracks became worse and they contacted us just a few weeks ago.

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“We have since visited the property and subsequently arranged for a structural engineer to carry out a survey.

“The cause of the structural cracking appears to be due to clay sub-soil and large mature trees but we have assured our tenants they are not at risk of any harm. We will carry out cosmetic repairs to cover the unsightly cracks next week.

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“Any structural and remedial repairs will be completed as quickly as possible to prevent any further disruption and inconvenience.”