BY TOBY PORTER
A childminder says she lost thousands of pounds in income because her boiler broke down and she had to turn away children.
Mother-of-three Finda Sam, of Chandler Way, Streatham, also had no electricity or heating for some of Christmas Day as the two fans the family were loaned to keep them warm had triggered their electricity supply’s emergency off switch.
A contractor came round that day and told the freezing family to use a higher capacity socket for the blow heaters, so that they could switch on the fans again.
That also enabled them to cook, wash using their immersion heater – and switch their Christmas decoration lights on again.
But he was a gas engineer so could not fix the boiler’s electrical problem. In the end, the boiler was replaced, after two more appointments where workmen failed to turn up – on December 29 and January 2 – and more than 50 calls to council house managers. The family’s boiler stopped working on December 17.
She said she made about 50 calls to get the correct workmen there to fix it and has also visited Southwark council’s one-stop shop at Peckham Library.
There she was told staff could not help and she needed to call again to make an appointment. “The first time an engineer visited on December 18 he said it needed a spare part,” she said. “On December 21, someone came and took away the spare part.
“On Christmas Day the gas engineer said it was an electrical problem. The next two appointments, no one came.
“It wasn’t fixed until the sixth appointment, on Thursday (December 28), and the work was finished the next day, Friday (December 29).”
Mrs Sam normally earns £200 a day as a childminder, looking after six children. She also has a nine-year-old of her own and a 21-year-old daughter with sickle cell disease. Her husband, Kai, 57, started to suffer from a chest infection while the boiler was out of action.
She said: “I could not care for children while there was no boiler as the house is too cold and Ofsted inspectors would take away my licence if I did so. It cost me more than £2,000 in fees as parents took their children to other childminders. I have lost customers. I don’t have any money now, so I want the council to compensate me for my loss of earnings.
“The boiler was fixed on (January 4) but I want to make a claim for the extra spending as well. A Southwark council spokesman said: “I apologise for the delay in getting Mrs Sam’s boiler sorted out.
“It’s taken longer than it should have done and we will compensate her for the delay. We have kept her informed of what has been happening – when our initial contractor went out to fix the boiler, he identified that it needed a spare part.
“When we went back to fit the spare part, a problem with the flue and heat exchanger were discovered so a new boiler was ordered so that the problem was fixed.”