Anger as decades of 'neglect' leaves Wiltshire housing estate 'dangerous'

  • Watch Louisa Britton's report

Residents in a Wiltshire village say three decades of neglect have left their housing estate dangerous and dilapidated.

The Victoria Park estate was originally home to prison officers working at neighbouring HMP Erlestoke.

Now only the communal spaces are owned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), but these have been left to badly deteriorate according to those living there.

The 50 homes are now all privately owned after they were sold off by the MoJ three decades ago, but residents living there say they have had enough of the poor state of repair - including crumbling pavements and broken street lights.

Derryn Henning, who moved in two years ago, said: "Especially as a person on crutches and often in a wheelchair, the mixture of the potholes all over the road combined with being pitch black has been incredibly dangerous and nerve-wracking for me, particularly in the wintertime.

Derryn Henning says the pavements' poor state of repair has made her fall over a number of times Credit: ITV News

"Obviously, because it's a very rural village. In the nighttime, after about 4pm, it is pitch black and often I've had to walk back by myself and I've fallen a couple of times."

Elizabeth, who has lived here for 33 years, says the maintenance of the village's infrastructure has deteriorated so badly that she has had sewage backing up in her drains on several occasions.

When she first moved in with her husband Michael in 1990, she said the area was "immaculate" but this has changed.

Old signs are a reminder the estate used to be used to house prison officers Credit: ITV News

She told ITV News West Country: "We're all neglected. We were non-entities here, second-class citizens. There's no doubt about it.

"They just don't care. And of course, now the price to put this all right is sky high, but that's their own fault."

The residents of Victoria Park are now campaigning for their voices to be heard.

Conservative MP Danny Kruger, who represents the Devizes constituency, said: "The estate itself is in a state of complete disrepair because the different organisations responsible for it - which is the prison service, which still owns the land - hasn't looked after its property properly because they're trying to transfer it over to the council, which is the right thing to do.

Elizabeth James moved into her house with husband Michael in 1990 Credit: ITV News

"But they've been discussing that for about 30 years on and off. And what's happening now is that the streetlights don't work. You've got terrible potholes, you've got the sewage backing up into people's houses because the drains are not being properly looked after because all these different agencies are not taking responsibility."

Conservative Cllr Dominic Muns of Wiltshire Council said: "The council want to adopt the area so that we can support residents in the way that we would anywhere else in Wiltshire.

"But of course it needs to be an acceptable standard. Just as if a housing developer was going to build properties and then ask us to adopt, it needs to reach a suitable standard That's all we're asking for from the MoJ."

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "We apologise to the residents of Victoria Park for the issues they have faced and are working at pace on plans for maintenance and repairs to the estate."