A pregnant mum of seven who is expecting twins says her desperate family needs to leave the “hell” of a council flat, claiming it is not a safe environment to bring up children.
Alana Burns lives in a four bedroom flat above a pub in Bathgate with her children Stewart, 20, Bryan, 19, Caitlin, 16, Leigh, 15, Cayden, seven, Steven, four, and Alisha, two.
Since moving in, the family has experienced a catalogue of issues, the most alarming being a leak coming into one of the bedrooms which has made it unusable.
This has made it an even tighter squeeze with all eight of them sharing just three bedrooms in the flat. And despite numerous calls to West Lothian Council in an attempt to rectify the damp problem, the 38-year-old single mum insists she is getting nowhere.
Alana, who is due to give birth to twins in March, was reluctant to take the property but says she was left with no alternative. She told the Evening News: “My relationship with some of my children is at breaking point. We can’t keep living like this. The council has been out to the leak and said they’d get in touch with me, I have heard nothing. This has been going on for weeks and it needs sorting out. It is not safe for anyone to be sleeping in that room so we’re now down to eight people sharing three bedrooms which is ridiculous.
“I just want to get out of this hell. I’d rather live anywhere else, as long as it is not in here. It has been really tough. I’m feeling down every night and sometimes you just feel like giving up. But I just have to keep going for the sake of the kids.”
The family was living in a private let in Livingston until her landlord decided to sell the property in August. After spending a month in various hotels, West Lothian Council found them the flat in Bathgate and they moved in on September 20.
Alana has also complained about uneven flooring, damaged ceilings, noisy neighbours and not receiving post. She is having to pay out £30 a day on electricity with her claiming a third party is using her supply.
She says the flat is not an environment she wants to raise her children in and is pleading to the council to be relocated.
She said: “We all have to wake up at 6.30am and a taxi picks the kids up at 7.30am to take them to school in Livingston. I need a proper house where I can bring up my children. The whole situation is unbelievable.
“My kids can’t go out to play here. The road in front is busy and there is a car park at the back of the property so it isn’t safe. All the kids are stuck inside all night crammed in without any TV. There is no way we’re using anywhere near that level of electricity. We wouldn’t be here if we had a choice but we need to now get out as soon as possible.”
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “It can be challenging to find suitable accommodation for large families who present themselves as homeless, given the limited stock of larger homes available.
“In this case, the council arranged for temporary accommodation from a private landlord to try and meet their housing needs until a permanent home could be found.
“Previous repairs notified by Ms Burns have been fixed by the landlord. The leak was only notified to us on November 12, with a repair to be arranged soon.
“We would encourage Ms Burns to engage with the offers of support already made, to allow us to help find a solution for her family’s housing needs. This includes widening her choice of areas to maximise her opportunities for permanent housing.”