Grieving family faces roadwork misery

Carole Elliott.
Carole Elliott.

A grieving son has hit out at ‘disrespectful’ council officials after ignoring his pleas over Morpeth road works.

Dr Michael Wilkinson contacted Northumberland County Council about planned re-surfacing in Shields Road, Stobhill, as soon as he received notice of the works to request a designated space for medical staff to park, who were providing 24-hour care for his terminally ill mother, Carole Elliott.

He was assured that provision would be made, but when work started a day earlier than scheduled last week, no consideration was given.

Sadly, Mrs Elliott had died on Sunday, August 31, but Dr Wilkinson said the council could not have known, and when the work began, the bereaved family were not even given time to move their car.

He said: “I think the council has shown a complete lack of respect.

“We got information about re-surfacing work that would be done right outside my parents’ front door and to let the council know if we had concerns. At the time, my Mum was needing 24-hour care at home from district nurses, GPs, carers, friends and family, so I contacted the council to ask if arrangements could be made and was told it would be fine.

“I wasn’t asking for the work to be postponed, but we needed some support, such as a designated space for the carers to park. Nothing was done about it. My Mam died on the Sunday, but the council wasn’t to know that.

“The work started a day earlier than we were notified about and it was disrespectful the way it was done. We got a knock on the door early in the morning asking to move the car, but they didn’t even wait for us to come out.

“They were pulling up the road right beside my stepfather’s car. Little bits of road surface were spilling over the wagon onto the car. They couldn’t even have waited a couple of minutes for us to come out.

“I just feel really let down. I had asked the council for a little bit of help and it had just fallen on deaf ears.”

Northumberland County Council Interim Head of Technical Services Ian Brown said there was a misunderstanding and apologised for the situation.

He said: “Our construction operatives are decent, hardworking and compassionate people, and they never intend to cause offense. When they do make a mistake, we try our best to put things right. On this occasion it appears that there was some misunderstanding due to two people having similar names. The result was that we treated Dr Wilkinson’s situation with less sensitivity than we would have wanted to.

“Unfortunately the work itself involved noisy operations which could not have been avoided due to the condition of the road. The design life of the surfacing is 20 years so we will not have to cause such inconvenience again for a while.

“For the insensitivity, I would like to apologise unreservedly and will be arranging a meeting at a suitable time with Dr Wilkinson to do so personally.

“We understand the funeral is on September 11 and so have re-arranged our programme to pull out of the area on September 8 and resume our repair works on September 15 to reduce distress to the family at what must be a very difficult time for them. I would like to also thank Councillor Ian Lindley for working to resolve this situation.”

Mrs Elliott was just 49 when she died of cancer. She was born in Morpeth and lived in the town all her life. She was married to John, had two sons, Michael and Peter, and doted on her granddaughter Amelia May.

Dr Wilkinson paid tribute to his mother.

“My Mum was someone who kept herself to herself. She was quite a private woman, but a lot of people would know her, particularly in Stobhill,” he said.

“She was a home-maker, but she went to Northumberland College and got a lot of qualifications in catering and hospitality. She loved that.

“She also liked football and supported Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. I don’t know where that came from, living all her life in Morpeth, but she liked to be different. She also loved travelling to Germany, which helped her when putting a bet on the World Cup for Germany to win.

“One of her hobbies was bus travel. She was well known to the bus drivers in the region. My stepfather works for Arriva at Blyth and my stepbrother works for the same depot as a driver. My Mum would often get on the same bus he drove on her way to meet friends at the Red Lion in Bedlington.”

Mrs Elliott’s funeral takes place at St James’s Church, Morpeth, today.