Neighbours in Brondesbury slam inadequate housing repairs, antisocial behaviour and asbestos in their estates
PUBLISHED: 14:05 18 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:59 21 November 2019
Tenants and leaseholders in Brondesbury attended a meeting to demand answers over claims of inadequate repair work, anti-social behaviour and asbestos on their estates.
Representatives from the council, construction industry and community officers joined the meeting at Windmill Court community hall on Thursday afternoon.
People living in Landau House and Joules House estates had been invited to address their concerns regarding a new heating system which requires the installation of pipes and smart meters in their homes.
The project, led by Brent Council and Oakray, is way behind schedule with delays accessing peoples' homes.
Sabrina Taylor and her partner Jason Savage told the panel they believe their home is a fire hazard following the completion of work in September.
Miss Taylor said: "My work finished on September 9 and I've not seen any housing officer come check it. If there was a fire tomorrow it would be because the work has not been done that Brent is saying is ok. There are gaps, there's plaster missing, it's a hot mess."
She told officers that fire-proofed panels in the bathroom were removed and replaced as part of asbestos removal but they were not sealed.
Her partner Jason added: "They lead to the riser ducts through the building and should be sealed. The contractors said it is not part of their work to make good but these are fire panels. If there was a fire now in the flat below, our flat would be filled with smoke."
Officers confirmed at the meeting that they would make appointments to visit all the tenants' homes within the week,
Miss Taylor said families were "living in building sites", that she had to "push" for her own family to be put in a hotel for the duration of the works, but her father of her children hadn't been included because he "isn't on the tenancy".
Evelyn Donaldson, 80, chose to stay in her flat. She said: "I don't see it as a council house, this is my home and the way they left it, I have to paint it. "Brent Council is rotten, they don't do anything for nobody, all they do is save money."
Joyce Onode, Brent Council's liaison officer on the project, said the most "vulnerable" households were "decanted" during works.
She admitted: "We have made mistakes, we are holding our hands up. The way is how we go forward," she said.
Council officers tried to reassure tenants that asbestos in the properties was only dealt with if disturbed when doing building work in a particular room.
But one leaseholder questioned how the council could sell him his flat seven years ago knowing it contained asbestos. "Why didn't the council tell me there was asbestos in it?" he said.
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He was told there was no leasehold officer at the meeting, even though it was on the agenda that the issue with flat owners would be addressed.
Another leaseholder said he'd had asbestos removed in 2003, 2007 and "this will be the third time". Both men were told their concerns would be "taken back to the whole team."
There were also complaints of anti-social behaviour with rough sleepers accessing the estates and taking drugs.
One disabled man, who's lived in Joules House for more than 20 years said: "It's been going on since I moved in. They shoot up on the stairs, they vomit on the stairs." He explained how they use the stairwell as a toilet.
Other neighbours backed him saying people can access the building by standing on vehicle roofs in the car park and hoisting themselves up.
Muhammed Choudhury, Brent Council's neighbourhood housing manager, said they were working on a project to "design out potential anti-social behaviour and crime issues" and working with agencies including the police.
He said they were going to "reinvestigate" the issue and "deal with it."
Hakeem Osinaike, Brent Council's operational director for housing said after the meeting: "We are very sorry to hear about residents' concerns over the installation of the new heating system, asbestos and anti-social behaviour on their estate. A new heating system is being installed as the old system is beyond repair.
"We have been in consultation with residents throughout the whole process. Where necessary, we have temporarily rehoused vulnerable tenants whilst work was taking place in their home.
"There was a delay in the programme due to residents raising concerns about cost implications and damage to homes whilst work was taking place.
"We paused the programme for a short time to investigate these concerns and work together with residents to find solutions.
"The installation will be complete by Spring 2020 and we will meet with residents after to pick up any remaining issues.
"Brent Council adheres to all current asbestos regulations very strictly and residents' health and safety is our most important consideration. As such, we always deal with asbestos in a safe and appropriate way.
"We are also working, alongside the police, to deal with the issues of anti-social behaviour on the estate.
"Our priority is for residents to feel safe and secure in their home and we are committed to doing everything we can to try and put a stop to this."