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Must someone die before they sort Finsbury estate’s heating?

08 December, 2017

• SINCE late last week, our several hundred council properties on Brunswick Close estate in Finsbury have been without water (none for drinking or washing) and heating. The problem has been recurring throughout the week despite numerous reports from residents and the tenants’ management organisation to Islington Council.

Last year, someone was hospitalised due to the lack of heating, which affects the estate every year due to the damaged, antiquated boilers the council has identified as a problem but refuses to exchange for new ones for another two years.

One resident who has lived on the estate for nearly 50 years – a carer for her elderly neighbour and husband, who has several disabilities and is taking nearly 30 tablets a day to manage his condition – called the council on the out-of-hours service and was told it wasn’t an emergency last weekend. If lack of drinking water, washing facilities and heating doesn’t constitute an emergency, what exactly does? Do we have to have a fatality before someone will finally listen?

On the coldest night of the year, we were still without heating, despite the council stating its contractor, Mitie, would be working throughout the night to make sure residents, including many vulnerable tenants, wouldn’t freeze. The contractors tried to go home at 8pm and only stayed due to the tenants’ management organisation chair doing a count of affected properties and convincing them to stay later.

We were given only three contractors to deal with every resident on the estate, despite being told this would be taken seriously and be fixed by tonight.

There isn’t the staff or time being spent to solve the problem and no one from the council is keeping us informed.

The tenants’ management organisation committee, manager and staff have been working hard to try to get this sorted, but unfortunately the council has not been true to its word and is not taking our health and safety seriously.

Last Thursday evening, we had a meeting and invited two representatives from the council and Councillor Raphael Andrews – ironically to discuss the boilers on our 60-year-old estate that have been identified as needing urgent replacement – and all these concerns were brought up by residents. Although Cllr Andrews pledged to bring this up as a matter of urgency and apologised for the situation, saying no one should have to live like this, council representatives did not provide any answers and one was notably unapologetic and defensive.

The tenants’ management organisation committee is trying its best, constantly contacting the council for updates and opening the community room so there is at least somewhere for residents to sit that has any heat at all, where they can have a cup of tea. But what we really need is to be listened to by the council. Enough is enough.

We pay for water and heating through our rent and the council refuses to reimburse us. The year before last, we were without water for 15 days. Residents, including myself, complained and were told nothing could be done. This needs to be taken seriously before the worst happens.

Vice-chair, Brunswick Close Estate Tenant Management Organisation Committee


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