A PENSIONER says a council's highly praised housing department has let her down over the past ten years.

Ivy Deery, 79, lives alone in a ground floor flat in Medway House, Billingham Green, where she has resided for the past quarter of a century.

But in the whole of that time she says Stockton Borough Council has made no improvements.

She says her kitchen is dilapidated and has not been updated since she moved in, the flat desperately needs decorating and, to top the lot, her boiler recently caught fire.

The boiler, which was put in by council contractors, caught fire in the early hours of New Year's Day, sending smoke billowing throughout the flat.

The fire brigade had to be called to tackle the toxic fumes.

Now her daughter, Anne Oram, says her mother should not have to put up with the flat's problems any longer.

Mrs Oram said: "This home has not been modernised once in 25 years.

"The kitchen is ancient. Many of the cupboard doors don't fit and there has only been a steel sink in for the last couple of years.

"But the worst of all is the boiler.

"For months the pilot light has been going out and we often smelt gas - the council have almost never been away repairing it all the time.

"And then it caught fire on New Year's Day.

"If the smoke alarm hadn't worked then God knows what would have happened to mum.

"She has never been a problem tenant - in fact she's been a model tenant. But because she is elderly and doesn't like to cause a fuss she is completely ignored."

Tristar Homes, which works on behalf of the council to improve the authority's housing stock, was recently given a two-star rating by government inspectors.

A Tristar spokesman said: "We are sorry about the problems Mrs Deery has had with the boiler.

"Apparently the heat exchanger burst, something that could not be foreseen. "

He added that, following a major cash boost from the Government for its two-star rating, Tristar will start to make improvements to thousands of properties later this month.

The firm fitted a boiler in Mrs Deery's property yesterday.