Complaints prompt Islington Council to plan new consultation over communal heating

Islington Town Hall

Islington Town Hall - Credit: Archant

A five-month heating shut-off experienced by thousands of council tenants and leaseholders could be a thing of the past following a Finsbury pensioner’s petition.

Resident Jo White collected 277 signatures against the councils policy of turning off central heatin

Resident Jo White collected 277 signatures against the councils policy of turning off central heating for five months of the year - Credit: Archant

Jo White, 65, collected signatures of 277 residents living on the King’s Square Estate off Goswell Road, who said they would be happy to pay more to stop Islington Council switching off their central heating from mid spring to early autumn.

The petition also takes issue with the council turning off the heat at night times, which has reportedly led some tenants and private leaseholders to desperate and dangerous measures like leaving their ovens and hobs on while asleep to keep warm.

Now the town hall has said it will hold a consultation on central heating later this year, following pervious complaints about the fact that council tenants are currently charged far more than leaseholders for heating.

Ms White, who lives in Turnpike House, said: “Everyone who signed the petition said that they didn’t care if they had to pay more. They would rather have it on all year.

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“They [the council] seem to think we’re stupid and that if they leave it on all the time we are going to have it on 24 hours a day.

“What’s the point in having the heating on automatically all day for 18 hours, if it’s too hot and you want to turn it off you can’t.”

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The issue was raised at an environment and regeneration scrutiny committee meeting on Monday which also considered the effectiveness of previous consultations, which have been criticised by tenants.

Thomas Cooper, chair of the tenants management organisation (TMO) for Spa Green Estate in Clerkenwell, called for a “central heating summit”.

“I don’t want to speak too soon, but I have no doubt they have now realised they can’t keep spinning the same old lines.

“They know the cat is out of the bag and it’s not going to go away.

“If there are beneficiaries under the current system I’d like to meet them, because I haven’t me a single one.

“People are becoming cold and desperate and putting themselves in dangerous situations. One leaseholder I spoke to, an intelligent woman, was so cold when she got home from work that she turned the oven and hob on. She woke up to a small fire in the kitchen.”

Islington Council said they would hold a new consultation on the communal heating system later this year.

A spokesman said: “Overall, communal heating is effective and better value for residents than individual heating systems, which are usually more expensive for the amount of heat provided.

“However, we know there are some issues about communal heating on some estates, and we are talking to residents, TMOs and tenants and residents associations (TRAs) about the best ways to sort these out.

“If tenants or leaseholders have comments about specific systems we ask them to get in touch.”

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