SANJANA IDNANI reports from South Norwood on the latest efforts by council tenants to secure decent living conditions for their families
Residents from across the borough took to the streets of South Norwood last night for a march and rally to protest the ongoing neglect and mismanagement of their homes by Croydon Council – four months after the “appalling” conditions endured by council tenants in blocks on Regina Road created a national scandal.
The mouldy, damp and dangerous state of the flats were exposed by ITV News in March, yet many tenants say that they and their families remain in unsafe conditions, claiming that they are not being listened to by the council and are still having to fight to get serious issues resolved.
Residents say that despite promises made on national television, 18 weeks later they are still waiting for a face-to-face meeting with the council leader, Hamida Ali.
What the council leader said four months ago
“When we ring up to talk to them, they don’t want to believe you, then they tell you that you’re lying,” one Regina Road Resident told Inside Croydon.
“They don’t come and fix your thing and if they do come and fix your thing, they’ll tell you have fixed it when they probably haven’t.”
The solidarity march was organised by a coalition of community groups, the Regina Road Residents’ Support Group, the South Norwood Tourist Board and members of the South Norwood Community Kitchen.
As they marched from Regina Road down South Norwood High Street, protesters chanted “Croydon Council! Shame on you!” and “Justice for Regina Road!”
For banners, some had managed to “acquire” estate agents’ to let or for sale boards – of which there is no shortage in South Norwood – and spray painted over them with their slogans of support. Drivers in passing cars occasionally joined in by beeping their horns in time with the chants while the marchers played music to make their presence heard and to add to the community spirit.
Only one local councillor attended: Louis Carserides, the parliamentary aide to Steve Reed MP who was elected as a Labour ward councillor in May.
Carserides arrived at Regina Road for the march rendezvous, when he looked at times awkward and embarrassed, especially after one of the protestors gave him a banner to hold. Carserides did not join the solidarity march: “The shouts of ‘Shame on you!’ probably put him off,” according to one marcher.
Television news crews from ITV were again in attendance.
The residents and their supporters rallied at the end of the march on the green outside the flats, when speeches were made, with experiences shared and thanks given to those who had shown up.
One resident, Rebecca Williams, promised in her speech that “there will be more” protests as they continue to battle for their right to a safe home.
Williams said, “I waited three months to get my sink fixed. The washers were gone, so the water was just leaking out of the pipes. I waited for three months and then they came to fix that. When the guy left, the sink was still filled up with water.
“So, they called a plumber to fix that, and he then told me that they hadn’t replaced the washers which they said they had replaced, so I had to call back and get it done.
“Why should we have to live like that?”
Read more: Investigation finds systemic failure and incompetence in council
Read more: Only 10% of council housing repair jobs ever get checked
Read more: Ali accused of cover-up over findings on council flats scandal
Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats
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