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Robert Alton: a statement from Noel Sharpe, our Group Chief Executive Officer

Robert Alton: a statement from Noel Sharpe, our Group Chief Executive Officer

On 9 March 2023 we learned of the death of our tenant Robert Alton after his body was discovered at his home in Hemsworth Road, Bolton. The subsequent police and coroner’s investigation has concluded Robert’s death was not suspicious and that he likely died in May 2017.

Everyone at Bolton at Home has been deeply shocked by this and we realise it will concern and upset people to learn his body remained undiscovered for such a long time. It’s completely unacceptable to us that something like this has happened, and we’ve taken action to reduce the risk of it happening again.

The reason we didn’t discover Robert’s death for so long is because our previous procedure, while meeting legal requirements, wasn’t strong enough to prevent something like this happening.

We’d made Robert’s home gas safe in June 2017 by turning off the gas supply externally after we were unable to contact him to arrange the annual gas safety check.

Following this, we made many attempts to contact Robert over a number of years to arrange gas safety checks. It’s clear that the action taken by us to understand why we couldn’t contact him didn’t go far enough. Opportunities were missed in spotting that something was potentially wrong. We should have done more to check on Robert’s welfare.

We changed our procedure in July 2022, and we now immediately begin the process of seeking access to someone’s home via a warrant in instances where we cannot contact them to arrange a gas safety check. It was this change and subsequent review of previous instances that ultimately led to us seeking a warrant to access Robert’s home and discovering his body.

The change to our procedure significantly reduces the risk of something like this from happening again. In addition, we’re also taking steps to enable our tenancy support team to work more closely with our gas safety team where we’re struggling to gain access to a property and where there may be welfare concerns.

We’re also exploring what else we might be able to do to further reduce the risk of this being repeated.

I would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to Robert’s loved ones, friends and neighbours and apologise to them for the opportunities we missed in finding out why we couldn’t contact him.

If you have any concerns, please contact us on 01204 328000.