Fed-up couple spend four months without a kitchen after worker’s blunder

KITCHEN ROW ... Julie Martin, whose kitchen wall units disappeared while rewiring work was being carried out, is still fighting to have the units replaced.
KITCHEN ROW ... Julie Martin, whose kitchen wall units disappeared while rewiring work was being carried out, is still fighting to have the units replaced.

A FED-up couple are still fighting for a replacement kitchen four months after blundering workmen threw theirs away.

Julie Martin, 51, and her partner Kevin McKeith, 53, say they were left £9,500 out of pocket after bespoke cupboards were removed from walls and left in their back yard before being taken away as rubbish.

Their nightmare began when contractors FT Finley, working on behalf of South Tyneside Homes, came in to carry out jobs in their terraced property in Westoe Road, South Shields, as part of improvements under the Decent Homes programme.

The couple had declined the offer of a new kitchen as they so loved their own, which was fitted five years ago, but still required a new bathroom and rewiring jobs to be done.

Workmen removed cupboards from the kitchen walls in order to carry out rewiring work, and placed them in the back yard, before another worker, who was going around collecting rubbish, came and took them away.

At the time, bosses at FT Finley apologised for the gaffe and accepted responsibility, saying they would work with the couple to resolve the issue.

But now, four months later, the couple have spent almost £700 in solicitor’s fees and are no further forward.

Ms Martin, who is originally from Hertforsdhire, said: “We’re in exactly the same position now as we were when this first happened. We still haven’t got a kitchen.

“It’s cost us hundreds in solicitor’s fees as well to try to get this sorted, but it seems that no one will accept responsibility.

“Our solicitor has written to the council who said it’s down to FT Finley, and they haven’t even answered the letter that was sent to them.

“It just feels like they’re hoping we’ll get fed up of fighting and just forget about it, but I’m not letting it go. We’ve been left thousands of pounds out of pocket.”

Ms Martin, a support worker for people with brain injuries, said the delay is also affecting the rest of their home renovations.

She added: “We can’t do a big shop because we’ve got nowhere to keep the food and the work-tops are covered with stuff that was in the cupboards so there’s no room to cook.

“The spare room is filled with boxes of stuff from the kitchen as well so we can’t decorate in there, and I’ve got family asking to come and visit but I’m having to say ‘no’ because there’s nowhere for them to sleep.

“This has cost us a lot of money and we just want back what we’ve lost. At the end of the day, it was their fault so we shouldn’t have to be paying for it.

“FT Finley have admitted liability so they should put right what they’ve done wrong.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Homes said: “Main contractor FT Finley have always accepted full responsibility for the disposal of the kitchen units and have tried to agree a fair solution with Mr McKeith. Unfortunately, no agreement could be reached and the matter is now in the hands of FT Finley’s and Mr McKeith’s solicitors.”

A spokesman for FT Finley said: “We are sorry that two wall units from the kitchen were taken away accidentally and we have done all we can to try to resolve this with Mr McKeith with a number of options, including a like-for-like replacement of the two units, to the same specification as their original units, and a full replacement of all fronts to the other kitchen units as well as a new tiled splashback.

“However, this offer was rejected and was then placed in the hands of the insurance company acting for South Tyneside Homes.

“This then transferred to our insurance company only three weeks ago and we can assure Mr McKeith that the matter is being dealt with as an urgent case.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki