OAP ‘had to laugh’ at letter

Al Townsend outside his Cotmanhay house where cracks started to appear.
Al Townsend outside his Cotmanhay house where cracks started to appear.
Share this article

WHEN the wind blew down a fence post, pensioner Al Townsend thought it would be a breeze to get it fixed.

But a garbled letter from landlords changed all that, giving him some odd instructions – and saying he could expect a one-year wait for the repair.

Three Valleys Housing said he had to ‘provide a smoke-free working environment’ by not lighting up for an hour before their arrival at his home and no smoking would be allowed while they were in action – even though the work was taking place outsied.

The 84-year-old was also told workers would not do the job if a ‘juvenile is the only person present at the property when they arrive’.

Retired lorry driver Mr Townsend, who gave up smoking seven years ago, said: “The only thing to do was to laugh at it. The letter is ludicrous.

“Even if someone lit a cigarette, it’s pretty fresh in my garden at any time of the year.”

Although it arrived last week, the letter was dated November 2008 and included the wrong date for when he had reported the problem.

It also said that the work would be completed by April 13 2012.

“I could hardly believe the letter and never thought they were serious about having to wait a year for the job,” added Mr Townsend of Blackwell Avenue, Cotmanhay.

“It’s a 6ft fence and my neighbour thought children might have damaged it. But it was the wind which took out part of a panel and a post.

“I’d say it’s a half-hour job.”

Three Valleys Housing blamed a computer glitch and said the letter had been sent in error.

A spokesman said: “We’d like to apologise for any confusion we may have caused to our residents.

“The customer contact centre has recently had an IT upgrade. Part of the system which sends out the automated letter took a corrupted template for the basis of the mail out.

“Part of the corrupted template had a statement about not smoking in the home around our employees for health and safety reasons – which obviously would not be applicable to the garden.”

He added: “Everyone who has been sent a corrupted letter will be sent a corrected one as soon as possible.”

And Mr Townsend’s problem will be nailed much earlier than next spring.