FAMILIES in temporary housing in Denbighshire have said they are “not able to cope” under council living arrangements after being moved from property to property.

One young family, whose baby was born prematurely “due to stress” at the start of May, claim they had been placed in a hotel in April where they were sharing communal accommodation with people experiencing drugs abuse.

About 15 residents were placed in caravan park accommodation by Denbighshire County Council for two weeks in April before being told they would have to move as coronavirus restrictions on tourism were eased. They say they kept being moved from location to location by the local authority.

The Journal has chosen not to identify any individuals or the location of temporary accommodation used by the council.

A young couple with a one-year-old and a new-born child said that despite telling the council the hotel accommodation they had been provided with was unsuitable they had been given "no choice".

They had previously been kept at the hotel for seven months, from October to late April, during which the mother was pregnant. They said their concerns over returning from the caravan site were ignored.

“We have a two-day-old premature baby and a one-year-old and we have mice running around our accommodation,” the father said.

“We told the council and they said that is what we should expect because it is an old building.

“We said we couldn’t go back but we were told that if we did not accept it we would have nowhere anywhere else to stay.

“It has put us in accommodation with no facilities to cook and we have to share a communal area which is not suitable for my partner. There are syringes lying around and in the bins.

“We have not been able to cope.”

The mum-of-two added: "My son was born prematurely we think due to stress and maybe the fact the council didn’t inform the B&B I was nine months pregnant and placed me and my family on the top floor up three flights of stairs. Because of this I actually suffered placenta abruption."

The coronavirus pandemic has put greater pressure on temporary housing services across Wales and there has been a rise in the number of people seeking housing support in Denbighshire.

A Denbighshire County Council spokesperson said it has resulted in “limited availability” of self-contained homes, which has required the use of hotels and B&Bs on a temporary and emergency basis.

An internal audit carried out by the council in January to March last year slammed its provision of homelessness accommodation, stating the service lacked “clear direction” and had been “slow” in finding alternatives to B&Bs, hotels and caravans.

The study, published in December, gave a “low assurance”, meaning auditors believed there were “significant weaknesses in management of risks and/or controls that put achievement of objectives at risk”.

It also found residents were staying in emergency and temporary accommodation for lengthy periods, there was a risk that accommodation used is no longer suitable, with the welfare of the citizen not adequately monitored, and that there were not adequate written procedures or guidance.

A mother-of-four who fled domestic abuse in England, who had prearranged temporary accommodation with the council last month, said she had been moved to a hotel where her son, who has autism, had a breakdown due to having to share the accommodation “with drug users”.

She said within several weeks her family was moved to a caravan park and that they were due to be moved again as the holiday season returned.

“We moved to a hotel and my son had a meltdown, so we were put in the caravan park,” she said. “Now the new season has come they are kicking everyone off. The council doesn’t have enough places to house everyone. It has just gone from bad to worse.

“I’m trying my best but we are all living on the edge.”

The mother claimed that despite raising concerns over her children’s welfare the council had “pressured” her to return to the previous hotel.

She said that after seeking third sector advice and support, the council instead moved her to alternative accommodation at a nearby caravan park around mid-May.

A Denbighshire County Council spokesperson said the local authority has not received "any formal complaints over the quality, health and safety standards" of the hotel accommodation.

The spokesperson added that the council is currently in the process of adapting newly acquired property to provide eight units of self-contained family temporary accommodation.

During the last 12 months the local authority has supported 82 households from emergency accommodation into permanent social housing with Denbighshire’s Community Housing Team and Registered Social Landlords. Another 178 were accommodated in the private rented sector.

The spokesperson said: “The council has accessed a variety of temporary accommodation, ranging from B&B accommodation, hotel rooms, self-contained flats, two and three bed properties and adapted properties for residents who are at risk of becoming homeless. There is limited availability of appropriate self-contained homes in the right locations, which is why we have had to access rooms in hotels and B&Bs on a temporary/emergency basis.

“Where residents are housed in hotel rooms the council provides support to individuals to secure either more suitable temporary accommodation or preferably a permanent home: this could be through a Homelessness Prevention Officer or a dedicated support worker.

"We will support individuals to access debt/benefit advice through Citizen’s Advice Denbighshire, access to employment through Working Denbighshire and we refer people to specialist support if required.

“Following the Covid 19-outbreak, which resulted in an increase in people needing accommodation, and revised guidelines issued by Welsh Government every local authority was asked to submit a recovery and renewal plan to address homelessness and housing related support.

“We are currently developing our approach to provide even more of our own emergency/temporary accommodation with support on site and providing the appropriate level of wraparound support to those experiencing homelessness.

“Meanwhile, the council is working with its partners to increase provision of appropriate housing for the residents of Denbighshire, although our ambition of reducing homeless significantly will take some time to achieve but it is a commitment we are passionate about.”