Ramsgate hairdresser Marcello Marino says he and his family are facing homelessness because Southern Water has told them to move back to their property following works to a collapsed sewer pipe – but he says there is no way to access the flat.
Marcello Marino, who has owned his salon and home in West Cliff Road for more than 30 years, said it all started with a sewage leak in September last year which caused disruption to his business on the ground floor.
On September 28 this year Marcello was told the building was not safe and the shop would have to be closed. Two weeks later Marcello, his wife, two girls and baby son had to leave their home on direction from the water company.
Southern Water says the repair to the pipe, which the company says was a private connection although Marcello says it was under the street outside, is now complete and the flat is safe for the family to return to from tomorrow [November 30].
But Marcello says there is no way to get to the flat as the hairdressing business on the ground floor still requires work and a ‘door’ that he is being told to use is actually the entrance to a shed and storage area.
The 54-year-old said: “We can’t get in there and no-one wants to help so now I am trying to call Thanet council.
“The access looks like a door but it is actually a shed full of stuff in storage and sewage has been leaking in there so it is contaminated. Our little boy has already had E.coli and we do not want that to happen again. You can’t get a pushchair through there, we usually leave that in the salon and then go up the stairs.
“Southern Water say they will make no more accommodation costs so we will be homeless. The building is not ready, we went there today and could not get in. They say we have to move in but we can’t, there is no access [usually through the shop] and it is still a building site. It’s unbelievable.”
Southern Water says it has carried out required works despite the issue being with a private sewer and covered the costs for this.
A spokesperson added: ““We’re very sorry for the disruption and distress caused by our works to repair a collapsed sewer. The safety of our customers is paramount, which is why it was necessary for this family to temporarily move to other accommodation while we carried out essential repairs.
“We’re pleased to say that the repair to the sewer is now complete and the property made safe and this customer can now move back to his home on Thursday (30 November)
“However following the repair there is further work to do to reinstate the business premises on the ground floor and enable the customer to reopen his business.
“This may take a number of weeks and we’re very sorry for the continued impact this is having.”
Southern Water says loss of earnings for the time the business is shut will be covered.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 30: A Southern Water spokesperson said: “Unfortunately we have discovered an issue that means this customer cannot move back in today, this is due to the access to his home not being suitable at this moment in time.
“We continue to pay his accommodation costs for the time he is not able to be in his home. We’re very sorry for the continued impact and distress this is causing Mr Marino and his family.”