Mother claims Westminster Council housing blunder left her unable to vote

Nathalie Ifonge outside her locked flat in Brinklow House to which she has no access.

Nathalie Ifonge outside her locked flat in Brinklow House to which she has no access. - Credit: Archant

A single mother from Westbourne Park claims she missed the chance to vote in the general election due to housing issues that have spanned 18 years.

Nathalie Ifonge, who is living in temporary accommodation in Alfred Road, says she was unable to register to vote as all her documents were locked inside her flat in Torquay Street, close by, while her landlord, City West Homes, repair historic problems caused by damp.

CWH moved 46-year-old Ms Ifonge who has two children, Laeticia, 21 and Gaetan, 19, to temporary accommodation in March for six weeks telling her to take only essential items.

Ms Ifonge, said: “The council changed the lock on our flat, refused us access to the property. When I asked to be given the new lock, they refused and they ended up calling the Police to get me out of their office. I have not been able to collect our post, or check hospital appointments.

“My daughter travelled from Sunderland University to collect important documents that she needs for her dissertation, they refused her access, so we could not register on time to vote, meaning we are deprived of our right to vote.”

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In 2008 City West Homes took Ms Ifonge to court for rent arrears, which she won after having withheld her rent for their failure to fix her broken heating and cracked walls.

The constant damp in the bathroom led to leaks, causing Ms Ifonge, who’d been living in the property since 1996, to slip and fracture her ankle on Christmas Eve 2013 for which she still needs to wear a cast as it is not repairing properly.

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“The smell in the property is awful, the dampness is worse, my son has suffered asthma, and these problems cause him breathing and cough issues. My children are so depressed so I am.”

She added: “The last election I voted but I don’t want to vote any more but I do want my children to vote. Everything is so messy, I’m so tired, and I’m not living anymore. This situation has lasted 18 years, I’ve called four solicitors. I’ve been complaining all my life, how long will it go on?

A spokesman for City West Homes said: “We cannot begin work until the property is empty. Ms Ifonge has failed to meet us at the property to move her remaining belongings and has not given us permission to remove them.

“Once the property is vacant we can begin work which we estimate will take 12 weeks. Our original estimate of six weeks has been extended due to the fact that the tenant continued to use the shower, despite CityWest Homes asking them to use the bath instead to allow the wall in the bathroom to dry. This caused further water damage to the property.”

He added Ms Ifonge could have registered to vote from any address.

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