CROYDON IN CRISIS: ‘Nothing has changed’: Regina Road residents are planning a protest march next week over the continuing neglect and mismanagement of their council homes.
By STEVEN DOWNES
Despite solemn apologies and promises made on national television by council leader Hamida Ali back in March, the residents who remain in mouldy, damp and dangerous flats in Regina Road say that they are still battling to get serious issues with their homes resolved.
Photographs taken this week show continuing problems with damp and leaks in some of the three residential blocks’ common areas, which are not being fixed by the council contractors but simply being addressed with some plastic bags and gaffer tape.
Inside the flats, the 100-or-so households who remain in the 1960s-built blocks report regular hazardous water leaks on to their flats’ electrics, as well as broken glass strewn in the children’s playground, while inside the homes, there is the continuing issue of damp and mould affecting children’s breathing.
A report from independent consultants – which Ali’s council suppressed until after May’s London elections and a by-election in South Norwood ward – found that Croydon and their repair contractors, Axis, had failed “to deliver even basic ‘core’ housing services effectively… potentially symptomatic of poor performance across the council’s housing service”.
Among the key findings, the consultants said that there was “a poor operating culture with a lack of care and respect for tenants”, that there are senior managers at the council “who do not appear to know what is going on”, and “a lack of capacity and competence” in the council’s housing department.
None of which appears to have changed in the intervening months.
Meanwhile, local councillors, such as Clive “Thirsty” Fraser, have made public claims to have been repeatedly “door-knocking” throughout Regina Road – though they must have missed the continuing appalling conditions and botched repair work that their residents are having to endure.
Only a handful of tenants suffering the worst of the conditions – from a water leak that was originally reported as a fault in 2017 – and those featured in the shocking television news reports have been re-homed, in one or two cases permanently.
For the vast majority, the living nightmare continues.
And as a consequence, the increasingly angry residents will be taking to the streets of South Norwood next week in a rally which they hope will remind the borough – and the nation – of the continuing miserable conditions they have to put up with daily.
As one of the residents, Rebecca Williams, told Inside Croydon, “The independent report into the flats found that residents were being treated as less than human.
“Yet even to this day staff are still speaking to people with little respect or humanity.
“They are still sending staff out to do shoddy jobs and patch up the major problems in the blocks instead of finding solutions to the structural problems that doubtless exist.
“Nothing has changed, and residents have heard nothing from the council on how they plan to improve their appalling customer service skills.”
Action replay: what council leader Hamida Ali said four months ago
Williams, one of the organisers of next week’s rally, said, “We are waiting with bated breath to hear the outcome of the council’s independent survey of the condition of the flats and we are hoping that the council will then tell us what their game plan is, because at the moment, they don’t seem to have one.
“We don’t want people to forget about us or our fight for decent living conditions.
“That’s why we are holding a march next Wednesday, July 14, from the Regina Road flats – come and show the people in power that we will not be silenced until we are living in safety.”
Read more: Investigation finds systemic failure and incompetence in council
Read more: ‘Why do you appear not to know the answer to anything?’
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Read more: ‘Is it because the council don’t care? Where is their humanity?’
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