88-year-old Leeds woman stuck in 'death trap' house waiting over a year to downsize

Neighbours of an 88-year-old woman who has tried unsuccessfully for a year to downsize from her two-storey council house fear she is living in a potential "death trap".

Barbara White has lived in the same three-bedroom property in the New Farnley area of Leeds for 40 years.

The house has no central heating, 13 stairs to the first floor bathroom and steps down to the garden. Only one of the nine rooms has electric heating.

Former mill worker Mrs White, a widow who lives alone, suffers from arthritis and struggles to go to the toilet or use the bathroom. She has had several falls that have needed hospital treatment.

Mrs White said: "It upsets me, I just feel as if this house is much too big for me now – 13 steps to the bathroom. I want to move from here and I want either a bungalow or a bottom floor flat. I just want to feel safe."

Barbara's neighbours worry about her falling down the stairs as she tries to get to the bathroom

The pensioner has been applying for a smaller, more accessible council house for over a year without success.

Neighbour and friend Jane Gilliland helps her with shopping and other errands.

She said: "I worry that another winter for her in this house will not be great. There's no heating upstairs. It's freezing upstairs. She can't get in and out of the bath. It's just not safe.

"I worry about her all the time. coming down the stairs, falling down the stairs, trying to get to the bathroom.

"I worry that this house is a death trap for her, it's just not safe. I think she needs to be moved as soon as possible. This house is perfect for a family."

Government figures show that last year there were more than 159,000 households on the waiting list for social housing in Yorkshire.

Out of the 370 local authorities analsyed across the country Leeds had the second highest number, with more than 26,000 households waiting.

Bradford and Wakefield were also in the top 10.

On average, social housing applicants in Leeds can expect to wait more than two years and 5,500 people are identified as in urgent need.

In a statement, Leeds City Council said: "Demand is much higher than the available supply of social housing, and as a result, applicants can wait a long time to be rehoused... In specific cases we look to make direct allocations where a resident is under-occupying, to achieve best use of our stock, but there are a number of residents who we are seeking to assist in this way."

The council said it would contact Mrs White as a matter of priority.

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