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Police called after residents meeting on the St Raphael’s Estate descends in chaos

18:23 30 September 2016

Residents claim they were locked out of the meeting.

Residents claim they were locked out of the meeting.

Archant

An annual election meeting for residents on the St Raphael’s Estate descended into a “horror movie” amidst claims locals were locked out.

The annual general meeting at Phoenix Arch School in Drury Way, Neasden, last night was organised by Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) to elect new positions by ballot box for the St Raphael’s Residents’ Association.

BHP, which is currently in special measures for underperformance, hired an outside organisation to oversee the 6.30pm meeting.

Police were called within half an hour leading to an early finish.

Manira Jama, who is eight-and-a-half months pregnant said it was “like a horror movie”, with people screaming inside and outside the building.

The mother-of-three, who holds a joint tenancy with her husband, said: “I was 10 minutes late because I had to settle my disabled son with a carer but when I got there the door was shut. When they realised the chair of the residents association was late too they opened the door and there was a stampede to get in after her.

“About 50 of us managed to get in but there were about 150, 200 others who didn’t. People were screaming, ‘this is horrible, how can you do this to us, we’re residents’. “Inside they were locking all the fire exits and telling us we couldn’t vote. I was refused a vote. Another mother, who’d forgotten her child’s bottle, asked to leave to give him water and they wouldn’t let her.

“One of the directors from BHP had taken off her high heels and was banging them again and again against the table. There was such a commotion, I’ve never experienced something so frightening, it was really scary.

“You don’t think things would turn out like this, residents feel really mistreated, and I feel my health was put at risk.”

Cllr Zaffer Van Kawala, the Labour councillor for the Stonebridge ward that covers the estate, was at the meeting.

He said: “I know there were some issues raised about last night’s election. I will be working with BHP and the cabinet member for housing to see where lessons can be learnt and to ensure we continue to serve and improve our local area.”

He added: “If it transpires that residents were wrongly denied a vote then I will be requesting BHP and the council to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the allegations.”

A spokeswoman for BHP said: “BHP is committed to working closely with all of our residents and empowering them to take leadership roles within their communities, and to run their own residents’ associations and local activities. We are saddened about the unrest at last night’s AGM, but will continue to work with the newly elected residents’ association and local people on the estate.”

She added: “All residents eligible to vote and who arrived before 6.55pm on time were admitted into the room and were given tokens to vote.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed officers were called to the meeting and there were no arrests.

She refused to make any further comment.

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