Neighbours on problem-hit Spa Green Estate slam Islington Council for 'lack of accountability'
PUBLISHED: 13:53 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:12 14 September 2018
Neighbours on a problem-hit Clerkenwell estate slammed the council for a “lack of accountability” after just one officer and two councillors attended their AGM last night.
Shoddy repairs, a rodent infestation and blood splattered letters were all discussed at the Spa Green tenant management organisation’s annual get together.
The room was packed with neighbours from the 129-home estate – but there were prominent absentees, including the council’s housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward.
The estate manager Thomas Cooper said: “It’s important to put this under the spotlight because, apart from Mark [Kapszewicz], who is a contractor, not a single officer is here to account for their disappointing progress.”
Thomas challenged the two councillors who did show up, Matt Nathan and Ben Macmurdie, both of Clerkenwell Labour, to convey the concerns to Cllr Ward and the relevant officers.
He added: “This lack of accountability should not be allowed”.
At last year’s event, after seven years of Thomas raising the issue, the council conceded poor piping work had connected all flats on the estate, creating a fire hazard through compartmentalisation.
Holes left in the ceilings and floors, where the pipes feed through, is allowing leaking water and vermin to seep through some flats – but the most pressing safety issue is still the possibility of smoke and fire rising through.
An independent assessment of previous fire works was launched in the wake of the meeting last year.
Mark Kapszewicz, of Potter Raper Partnership, the fire auditors commissioned by the council, says his checks have flagged up additional “repairs that are required”, later warning “disruptive” repair work to the piping is still to come.
“I think it would be very brave of them [the council] to recharge leaseholders,” said Thomas. “There is no justification and I think it’s incredible we were talking about this a year ago but nothing has been done about it.”
In terms of pest control, the council implemented a recharge policy in 2017, meaning people on the estate are now charged £138 for up to three treatments.
But the interconnected “rat runs” connecting all the flats have allowed the rodent population to thrive – and residents questioned the fairness in being expected to dish out another £138 to deal with the problem. Many aren’t, allowing the mice to further multiply.
At last year’s AGM Cllr Ward said he wasn’t aware of the policy, pledging to look into it. But he wasn’t there to take questions last night.
Fad Mohammed, who lives on the estate, said: “I have mice and it’s disgusting – I’ve had pest control round three times but nothing has changed, which is really troubling.”
People also reported persistent problems with slow lifts on the estate, which are said to regularly break-down, driving some neighbours to avoid using them altogether.
What’s more, four of the estates seven lifts have the wrong post-codes inscribed on their plaques.
One man noted this was “sloppy” and another neighbour said: “The lift has been out of service more times than we have used it – in all my life I have never experienced such an awful waste of money.”
The lift engineer responsible for repairs failed to show up and sent a letter instead – though Thomas said his claims were inaccurate and came “from a different universe”,
Yoolit Meleake, of Wells House, raised the issue of dangerous letter boxes, and said: “The poor postman’s been cutting his fingers.
“All the post has blood on it and I don’t feel safe when touching or opening my letters.
“They [the letter boxes] are vicious,” said Thomas. “We asked them to deal with it a year ago but it’s still not happened.
“If multiple people are cutting themselves on the same letter-boxes all kinds of blood born infections are possible. But they [the council] are not taking it seriously.”