Residents in Bridge House were able to have a cup of tea with their breakfast today, and perhaps even take a shower, as their water supply was finally reconnected in the early hours of this morning – nearly four days after the supply was cut off.
But none of the people living in flats in the block off Surrey Street in central Croydon were taking matters for granted, as water still dripped from a leak on a second-floor stairwell, with electrical wires exposed nearby.
And with repairs still not fully complete, residents and their local councillors continued to complain about the partial and inaccurate information they have been getting from slow-motion managing agents The HML Group.
One resident told Inside Croydon, “The latest is: water back on. For now at least.
“But the leak continues and the second-floor stairwell carpets are sodden. So who knows if we’re facing more outages?”
The resident sent through a photograph (right) from the stairwell, where a paint bucket is perched on the railings precariously, collecting a steady stream of water.
There are nearly 80 flats in Bridge House, and they lost their water supply at around 10pm on Sunday, just as Croydon was heading into a Bank Holiday heatwave.
The cause is now believed to be the leak, which caused the computer controlling the block’s water pump to “trip out”.
Obtaining the parts over the Bank Holiday proved to be beyond HML Grup’s contractors, who told some residents they needed to source the part from suppliers in Kent, while others were given a story about needing to get the part from York.
Yesterday, three days into the Bridge House drought, Natasha Sumboo the “head of marketing” at HML Group, eventually got a statement to Inside Croydon, stating that her company is only “the acting managing agent on behalf of Bridge House, Croydon”, and confirming “that the repairs will be carried out today, with the part currently in transit”.
Sumboo also claimed that, “We have been in communication with the residents at Bridge House, providing continuous updates on the situation at hand,” a version of events which some residents say they do not recognise.
Indeed, given that yesterday morning HML Group was accused by the MP for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones, of having lied to her about the course of action it was taking to resolve the problems, there is mounting disbelief over their account from their customers.
Sumboo’s statement also passed the buck over her company’s failure to rehouse the residents until the repairs had been properly completed. “This is outside of HML’s control and the decision, in relation to the reimbursement of all associated costs for alternative accommodations for residents, ultimately lies with the building insurance broker and the freeholder and not with HML.”
The freeholder is Hampshire-based firm Radcliffe Property Investments Ltd. They have made no public statement regarding the situation at Bridge House.
HML’s statement described the reconnection of the water supply as “a matter of urgency”, which is nice, and promised “a further update later today”. No such update was ever received.
But yesterday, at 1.13pm, the company’s official Twitter feed claimed, in response to a ward councillor’s questioning, “The issue has been resolved in the last hour.”
This was immediately contradicted by a Croydon councillor, who described it as “Absolutely untrue.”
And by 5.30pm, a parched resident observed, “Dishonest communications (and not for the first time) from our HML building manager.”
Today, Sumboo said, “During the early hours of this morning, circa 6am, HML were advised that some residents were without water supply. This was immediately attended to and the issue was resolved, with water restored by 6.45am.”
One-bedroom flats in Bridge House can cost more than £1,000 per month to rent.
As another resident of Bridge House told Inside Croydon: “This kind of stuff makes you lose faith in the managing agents’ ability to do their job… to manage.
“It makes you wonder whether this is the kind of place you really feel comfortable and safe living in.”
- You can support Inside Croydon’s news-breaking independent local journalism. Sign up today as a subscriber. Click here
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC London News
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named the country’s rottenest borough in 2020 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine – the fourth successive year that Inside Croydon has been the source for such award-winning nominations
- Inside Croydon: 3million page views in 2020. Seen by 1.4million unique visitors