Editor’s comment: Consternation of estate TMO is fair enough

Spa Green MO AGM September 12, 2018. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Spa Green MO AGM September 12, 2018. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

Islington Council was told to act over the “fire trap” flats on the Spa Green Estate more than a year ago.

At the time, the borough’s housing chief – a contrite Cllr Diarmaid Ward – and three council officers faced the music at a packed public meeting. They agreed there were fire safety breaches, and Cllr Ward vowed: “The buck stops with me.”

(Arguably, the buck actually stops with the contractor that carried out the work, especially as it then doubled down and said compartmentalising the flats – isolating them from one another to contain fires – had worked, despite photographs published in the Gazette showing holes stuffed with newspaper or sometimes nothing at all. But that’s by the by.)

The fire brigade had rated the risks “tolerable”, meaning the estate at least didn’t need to be immediately evacuated like the five enormous Chalcots towers in Swiss Cottage. Since then, the council has appointed a fire auditor – and been told, again, there are repairs required.

Still – you can understand the TMO’s frustrations, especially when you add into the mix a rodent problem caused by the same network of holes, and the more mundane issues like broken lifts and bloodied postal workers that perhaps plague many estates in such cash-strapped days.

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There are something like 60 tenants’ and residents’ associations and tenant management organisations in Islington, which to be fair to Cllr Ward would be an awful lot of AGMs for one housing chief to attend (though perhaps this wasn’t the best one to miss). And two of the three newly elected ward councillors were there, and agreed a lack of scrutiny of contractors was an issue. But 12 months after Cllr Ward’s pledge, I think it’s legitimate for the TMO to want more: a timetable for remedial works, and the assurance residents won’t pick up the bill.

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