Ystalyfera residents told Panteg landslide repairs may not start until February
RESIDENTS who were forced from their homes after a landslide have been told it could be February before repair works can start.
Residents from 13 properties in Panteg, Ystalyfera, had to leave on December 22 after tens of thousands of tonnes of mud, debris and vegetation slid down the rock surface, blocking the road.
The families say they have now been told that the results of a survey to see what can be done may not be available until February and that clearing works cannot start until after that.
Some residents claim they have been forced to return to their homes after their empty properties were targeted by burglars.
Resident Kain Scott said: "People are being targeted because we're not there. We were told the houses would be monitored by the police, but that's only during the day.
"It's not what they might take, it's the damage they cause," he added.
Neath Port Talbot Council said daily checks were taking place in the area to check for any further ground movements — but residents say they are playing a waiting game.
Mr Scott said he had now returned to his home despite warnings to leave.
"We've been offered accommodation, but my place is a smallholding so I can't just drop everything and move," he said.
"It's going to be a month at least for the survey, and that's before they start clearing it.
"I've got children who need to go to school and the roads are blocked. My business is bound to suffer."
He said the residents have had support from local councillor Tony Randall and local people have rallied round.
He said the affected residents had been offered accommodation and even Christmas dinners as many were forced to change their festive plans.
"Our Christmas was totally disrupted," he said.
But Mr Scott said residents had hoped some minor work could have taken place so they could continue with their lives.
"I know we have to wait and see but I think they could have cut down some of the trees to make things a bit easier for us."
Mr Scott said he had moved his animals from the land but said he could not "walk away" from his home.
"These are our homes and we've done a lot to build them up," he said.
"It's going to be a big waiting game for us. Everyone I talk to is saying 'Can't they move a bit for us, a bit of clearing, even just the road," he said.
He said residents will gather at a public meeting on Thursday to discuss the effects on their homes including the values of their homes and insurance policies.
"Now we're worried about a situation arising where we suddenly find we can't get insurance.
"It's all the little worries that are adding up," he said.
Mr Scott said their worries were shared by residents from the wider area, who they hope will attend the meeting at 7pm in the local community centre.
Neath Port Talbot Council's director of environment, John Flower, said the road drainage system had now been cleaned out and electricity reinstated.
"The bad weather is hampering survey work. Currently the ground is unstable so we have to ensure the area is safe before engineers can enter the area. The welfare of residents and our staff remains a key priority," he said.
Bus routes have been diverted and the council said letters were being sent to families informing them of school transport arrangements in time for the start of the new term.
Mr Flower said the recent bad weather had reactivated the movement at Panteg.
"The ground on the mountainside at Panteg has been moving for more than 60 years," he said.
"However, the recent bad weather has reactivated landslide activity."