A mother claims her children are becoming ill after the family moved into a flat that is ‘infested with cockroaches’.

Shanel Howard, who lost her home when she lost her job earlier this year, was forced to move her family 12 miles away after Hertsmere Borough Council couldn’t find her a house in Borehamwood.

The mother-of-three says her three-bedroom flat in Turnpike Lane is infested with mice and cockroaches - despite the council insisting no evidence of an infestation has been found.

Councillor Ann Harrison raised Miss Howard’s situation at a recent full council meeting.

Cllr Seamus Quilty replied: “All our temporary accommodation is inspected regularly and is found to be of good standard.

“We have investigated this case and have spoken at length with the pest control officer who attended. He said he found nothing in terms of cockroach debris, egg sacks or skin in his search and no mouse droppings. He has left bait gel there in case and will arrange to go back.”

The council has offered alternative accommodation to the household on four occasions but Miss Howard claims these are even further away from Borehamwood, and that two of them were not big enough for a family of five.

She said: “We have been taken out of the area that my partner grew up in, where he has been a member of the Borehamwood community for 38 years. Our children are at school here and we have many commitments here. My son cries everyday and my step daughter is very depressed at being away from her friends.

“All we want is to get back into our home town and my partner’s birthplace.”

She added that the condition of the flat, which is above a chicken shop and is regularly blocked by overflowing rubbish, is making her children, aged 16, five, and ten months, ill.

The council's pest control officers visited yesterday and treated the flat.

A Hertsmere Council spokeswoman said this was the first time officers had been able to fumigate the property as the family had been keeping cats on the premises.