Council’s ‘urgent’ inquiry into housing scandal is slow to start

It took Croydon Council five days after they were approached by ITV News with serious questions about the appalling conditions in council flats in South Norwood before they announced an “urgent inquiry”.

At Croydon Council, it takes five days to announce an ‘urgent’ inquiry

And in the council’s first response to the reports about the state of its properties – which were described as “the worst I have ever seen”, by the head of a homelessness charity – tenants who feel abandoned by the local authority say that claims that any “repairs” were conducted on the Regina Road block in February “are simply untrue”.

After the Croydon housing scandal had led the News At Ten on Monday night, the council published the following statement, “Croydon Council has launched an urgent inquiry into conditions caused by water leaks at a council high-rise block in the borough.

“Led by an independent external housing specialist, the inquiry will look at what has happened at the flats in Regina Road and how.”

Clearly, Croydon Council’s definition of “urgent” is at odds with most other people’s. Despite council leader Hamida Ali, in an interview with ITV News on Tuesday, repeatedly stating that the independent expert would be appointed “tomorrow”, no such appointment had been made by noon today.

Instead, the council’s less-than-urgent inquiry is for now being established by Sarah Hayward, in her first week of her new job as interim exec director of place.

Patricia Hay-Justice: council’s third cabinet member for housing in six months

Meanwhile, Patricia Hay-Justice, a councillor for Addiscombe West ward, is in her first full week as the cabinet member for housing. To her credit, Hay-Justice has been making daily visits to the Regina Road flats, meeting residents from the sodden wet block as they have been moved out into temporary accommodation so that repairs might be undertaken.

Hay-Justice is Croydon’s third cabinet member for housing in just six months, following the sacking of Alison Butler in October and Jane Avis’s resignation as a councillor last week. Avis’s resignation is understood to have no connection with the brewing scandal over the dreadful neglect of council properties.

When Hay-Justice conducted her site visit yesterday afternoon, she was accompanied by Hamida Ali. Although Ali is a councillor for the nearby Woodside ward, it is understood that this was her first visit in person to Regina Road. Sources confirm that yesterday, Ali was in communication with Fransoy Hewitt, the young mother featured in the television news report. Ali sent her an email.

Hewitt and her erstwhile neighbours remain suspicious of their landlords and angry that the council has attempted to mislead people with its public statements.

On Monday, the council issued a press statement which said, “We are very sorry that these residents have not had the proper level of care and the standards at these homes are not what we would want or expect for any of our tenants.” So far, so good.

But in the same press release, the council stated: “It appears that the situation which is being caused by a leak in a property above has deteriorated rapidly since our contractor carried out repairs in February. We have since moved these residents out while we carry out further investigations and repair their properties.”

Council leader Hamida Ali: this must never happen again

One of the residents that have been in contact with Inside Croydon said, “That is simply not true. There were no repairs carried out in February.

“We’ve been reporting mould, damp and leaks in the flats across several floors for months, and nothing was done about that at all – not until they were shamed into action by national television.”

In its statement issued yesterday, the council said that it had referred itself to the Health and Safety Executive and the Regulator of Social Housing.

“The council will also be undertaking a review of conditions at all 16 of the borough’s similar high-rise housing blocks. The council will also be writing to all its tenants to update them on the inquiry and its progress,” the statement said.

And council leader Ali was quoted as saying, “I promise to our residents that we will do everything we can to make sure that this never happens again.”

Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats
Read more: ‘Is it because the council don’t care? Where is their humanity?’
Read more: ‘Why do you appear not to know the answer to anything?’


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Addiscombe West, Croydon Council, Hamida Ali, Housing, Patricia Hay-Justice, Sarah Hayward, South Norwood and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Council’s ‘urgent’ inquiry into housing scandal is slow to start

  1. Maverick says:

    For one I don’t know what everybody is expecting….When you have Members & Directors being appointed that have no experience in their role what do you expect ?

  2. Maurice says:

    Croydon should be ashamed of themselves as a local authority, the leaders interview was poor to say the least that I saw on TV. The reality is that to make matters worse the complainant has been shoved into a B&B. The question they need to ask themselves would they put their family in such a situation that tenant actually has to incur greater expenses for travel and time for herself and the children’s schools are further away. She had no kitchen facilities. I do hope that they compensate these families

  3. Lewis White says:

    Not only does someone need to get a forensic building surveyor in to look at the building and the damp issues, but someone needs to do a forensic examination of all the tenant requests, and compare what the tenants have been reporting, with what the housing officers and maintenance teams have been doing to investigate and take action .

    Is this a case of too few housing management and technical staff, high staff turnover, unsupervised contractors etc etc?

    Do they have proper records that go back years and years?

  4. Joseph Dyer says:

    It’s good news to see that Croydon Council moved the family after the TV contacted them but sad to see that it took news to move them into action and simply do their job, You have knocked the stuffing out of you community, and with elections coming up, it will be hard work to get the community back onside.

    • Ezra smith says:

      This is obviously a don’t care situation we all know this guvernment and councilers don’t care about people all they care about is thair status and their pay checks and what sadden me more they would never put their family through this disgusting type of living shame on you behaving like animals. With big pay checks SHAME ON YOU EZRASMITH894@

  5. Zenia Jamison says:

    There are quite a few who seem to have dodged responsibility here. Steve Reed for endorsing the council policies , tony newman , alison butler , the entire cabinet past and present and the local ward councillors. When have any of these people visited these blocks?
    .

  6. darrell william says:

    bonkers they get rid of the crooked councillors only to be replaced by their understudies. Who then tell us they knew nothing of their poor management practices. Just think about that as you open your council tax bills this weekend. At least we didn’t get a glossy brochure to tell us how hard they are working.

  7. Jason Bennetts says:

    It shows the system is messed up in my case roundshaw mtvh are making me homeless after living with my late partner 5 years n they refused my succession it prove the system needs to be looked at

  8. miapawz says:

    where are the croydon MPs in all of this> silent!

  9. mcoo2 says:

    Masonic misdemeanours are more often absolved from accountability… trying saying that 5 times quickly 😉

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