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Barnsbury Estate asbestos scare: Staff area on 'lock down' following inspection

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:00 15 February 2019

1A Adrian House, in Barnsbury Estate, has been

1A Adrian House, in Barnsbury Estate, has been "locked down" due to asbestos. Picture: Islington Gazette

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Workers fear they've been inhaling harmful fibres for years after a staff area in the Barnsbury Estate was "locked down" yesterday following an asbestos inspection.

1A Adrian House, in Barnsbury Estate, has been 1A Adrian House, in Barnsbury Estate, has been "locked down" due to asbestos. Picture: Islington Gazette

Newlon Housing Trust, which runs the estate, sent inspectors to Adrian House on Wednesday, where they found asbestos in a storage cupboard.

It was marked as a “hazardous area” the following day.

The housing association took full control of the estate on February 1, when its long-standing contact with the Barnsbury Estate Local Management Organisation (BELMO), employed to look after the site, was allowed to expire due to health and safety concerns.

Estate caretaker Sean Chin told the Gazette: “I was going in and out of that back room for the past seven years.

“Where the workers are should be the first place to be tested, do you know what I mean?”

He said: “Obviously it’s very worrying because our interests haven’t been looked out for.”

When Newlon announced it was taking over from BELMO at a public meeting in December, it cited inadequate gas and fire safety procedures in the estate as its primary motivator.

Neighbours raised concern about “dangerous” asbestos in the site and Newlon chiefs pledged to invest at least £12million in the estate over the next decade.

Some people had previously accused Newlon of allowing the estate to fall into disrepair.

Another staff member, who requested anonymity out of fear they’d be sacked, claimed: “We have been exposed to it for years. [...]

“It’s a store room area which 12 maintenance operatives and caretakers regularly use.

“Why have there never been health and safety tests here before?”

A Newlon spokesperson said: “As part of our improvement programme for the estate we are looking at refurbishing this office area.

“In planning for these works we discovered an area of asbestos based coating in a storage cupboard.

“As soon as we became aware of this we securely isolated this space in line with any relevant health and safety requirements and will be overseeing the safe removal of these materials, which were in common use at the time the office was built.

“We cannot comment on the previous management of the office space as we were not responsible for managing or maintaining it. With regards to the funding of BELMO, BELMO had sizeable unspent funds at the point at which Newlon took over direct management of the estate.”

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