The departure of two senior officials working in the council’s housing department, including the head of repairs, is not linked to the latest shocking coverage of the appalling conditions in flats in a Croydon-owned block in Regina Road, according to Town Hall sources.
The senior staff departures come at the same time that the South Norwood flats were featured in an ITV documentary, Surviving Squalor: Britain’s Housing Shame, which aired last night.
The programme prompted the government’s housing ministry to declare the conditions of homes featured in the programme to be “completely unacceptable”.
Graeme Nock, Croydon’s head of repairs, had worked for the council for 16 years. He was at the centre of the council’s efforts to investigate and put right the damp, leaks and mould in the flats after they were exposed in the first television news reports in March. In May, a report from independent consultants, found “systemic failures and incompetence” within the council’s housing a repairs services.
Nock is understood to be taking retirement now, as is one other senior figure who worked on council housing repairs throughout the period.
Government departments, housing associations and the National Housing Federation have all responded to last night’s ITV documentary, which paid a return visit to two residents of the Regina Road flats who they had interviewed six months ago, Fransoy Hewitt and Leroy McNally.
Croydon Council’s propaganda department, meanwhile, has failed to issue any response to the latest programme.
Nor has the MP who represents South Norwood, Steve Reed OBE, the Labour Party’s front-bench spokesperson on local government, made any comment following the latest programme.
The television producers exposed many similar cases of neglect and disrepair in the nation’s social housing, including leaks which led to near-fatal ceiling collapses, rodent infestations, persistent and chronic mould and fungus, in some cases within the homes of tenants who have breathing difficulties.
“It is completely unacceptable for people to be living in the unsafe homes we have seen in this investigation and we are committed to doing all we can to support tenants,” an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said this morning.
“We have listened to the feedback from thousands of people living in social housing and are using their experiences to inform our wide-ranging reforms of the sector, including reviewing the decent homes standard, which provides clear expectations for what makes a quality home.
“Our reforms will drive up standards and give tenants a clear pathway to raise concerns, while at the same time giving the regulator stronger powers to take action when things go wrong.”
A Local Government Association spokesperson said today: “Nobody should have to live in poor or inadequate housing conditions and the reports we have seen are disturbing and unacceptable.
“Councils are determined that all residents, regardless of tenure, have the security of a safe and well-maintained home with any issues quickly and satisfactorily resolved.”
The LGA said that together with councils, it is seeking “further powers and resources” to build 100,000 “high-quality” social homes for rent each year
The squalid conditions featured in the programme were also condemned by Kate Henderson, the CEO of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations.
“The stories on last night’s programme are just not acceptable, not only because of the levels of disrepair in these homes, but also because the residents have had to wait so long for these conditions to be tackled… Clearly, as a sector, it is vital we learn from what has gone wrong in the cases uncovered by ITV.”
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