Family’s ‘nightmare’ as bathroom leak forces them into motorway hotel over Christmas


Phil and Claire Parsley, their teen daughter Bethany, and pet pooch Harley have not been able to stay in their four-bed home in County Durham since August after a catastrophic leak in their bathroom made their home unsafe

The family are staying at a Holiday Inn at Junction 59 of the A1(M)
The family are staying at a Holiday Inn at Junction 59 of the A1(M)

A family is living an “absolute nightmare” after a bathroom leak forced them out of their home and into a motorway hotel – which is not serving food over Christmas.

Phil and Claire Parsley, teen daughter Bethany and pet pooch Harley have not been able to stay at their four bedroom house, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, since August.

They won’t get to return home until February and now face the prospect of Christmas in a basic room at a hotel which shuts its restaurant for three days over the festive period.

Mr Parsley has hit out at home insurers Ageas Insurance – accusing them of ‘penny-pinching’ which has delayed the work and left them to stay in unsuitable alternative accommodation.

They also blame the company for heaping on stress while they were both unwell.

Back in August, the couple discovered a leak in their en suite bathroom. As the water trickled down it swelled behind their living room wall, resulting in severe damage and an outbreak of black mould.

The family accuse their insurers of penny-pinching by hosting them in inferior accommodation

The family are also upset because the hotel is not serving Christmas dinner over the festive period

Home insurers Ageas Insurance agreed to fund the repairs but the family has been angered by the accommodation and food they have been offered whilst unable to stay at home.

Ageas Insurance has offered a cash settlement so the family can make their own Christmas arrangements, which they are now considering.

Initially the family was put up in a holiday cottage at Walworth in Darlington, County Durham, but it was only available short-term and Mr Parsely found the commute back to Newton Aycliffe, where he runs a transport business, six or seven times a day too difficult.

He said they were offered many unsuitable options before being put up in the Holiday Inn at Junction 59 of the A1(M).

Their 18-year-old daughter Bethany has her own hotel room – but only after her father insisted.

While his complaint is not with the hotel, he can hardly believe they are still there eight weeks later and may not get home until mid-February.

“I’m not a snob but I couldn’t let my family stay in some of the places we’ve been offered – there was an absolute doss-house, a room with four beds we were meant to share with our 18-year-old daughter or a caravan miles away in Weardale.

“There is a £95 to £105 budget for accommodation and £10 per person for food. Well, this hotel doesn’t even do food Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day so how am I meant to feed three adults on Christmas Day with £30?”

The couple both had Covid-19 during this time – which left Mrs Parsley, 54, in intensive care at Darlington Memorial Hospital for a week – and Mr Parsley, 58, has the lung condition COPD and has had to increase his medication.

Mr Parsley said: “It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, when you are living in one room with no space, a dog and one TV for hours a day it gets uncomfortable.

“The insurance policy quotes we get like-for-like repairs, so because you cannot get the same tiles anymore, they’ll patch up with similar.

“That keeps being quoted to us, like-for-like, but if that is the case we’ll have a four-bedroom, detached house with a double garage to stay in.

“The accommodation we’ve been offered has, at times, been ridiculously unsuitable and the stress cannot have helped when we’ve both been ill. It has been an absolute nightmare.”

Ageas Insurance has apologised to the couple and offered £6,000 to use their own local network to find accommodation until February 5, 2022, and £200 in recognition of the fact they will not be home for Christmas.

A spokesperson said: “We are really sorry that our suppliers have been unable to find the Parsley family alternative accommodation that met their requirements.

“We have seen a dramatic reduction in the number of suitable properties available for short-term rent across the UK and unfortunately this has resulted in the Parsley family being accommodated in a hotel while their home is being repaired.

“Unfortunately, the contractor could not order the materials needed to do the repairs until the excess was paid by Mr Parsley. This is standard procedure to avoid contractors being left out of pocket with unwanted materials if the customer changes his mind about who is doing the repairs. Now that the excess has been paid, work can begin to repair their home and is expected to be
completed by the first week of February.

“We appreciate that spending Christmas at the hotel isn’t ideal for the family and so, with their agreement, we have offered them cash.

“Mr and Mrs Parsley are considering this offer and we hope that our offer will allow them to both find accommodation that meets their needs and have an enjoyable Christmas.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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