Boiling mad! The estate left without heating and water

‘Is someone going to have to die before the Town Hall sorts this out?’ demands angry resident

Friday, 15th December 2017 — By Emily Finch

Brunswick Close estate residents

Brunswick Close estate residents who want its boiler system overhauled. ‘My child was really ill and there was no water,’ said one

FRUSTRATED residents – including a 97-year-old woman – have called for action from the Town Hall after their estate faced days without water and heating.

All 268 flats on the Brunswick Close estate, in Finsbury, were hit by the boiler breakdown, some for more than two weeks last month. Residents are now calling for an overhaul of the boiler system.

“Is someone going to have to die before the council sorts this out?” asked Lucy Chapman, vice-chair of the Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), which is volunteer run.

Residents say problems at four blocks – the first towers built for social housing in London – go back more than 20 years. A lack of heating put one elderly resident in hospital last year, they claim.

Ms Chapman said no one from the Town Hall called to check up on residents at the council-run estate after dozens called an emergency helpline to say they were without water and heating. “They didn’t provide us with water bottles. We had nothing from them. There are a lot of disabled and elderly residents living here,” she said.

Maria Clarke

Three huge boilers in the basement of one of the blocks serve the whole estate. One TMO member said he did not believe they had been replaced in more than 20 years.

“My child was really ill and there was no water. I made calls to the council but no one was telling me anything. We were cut off every time,” said resident Jodie-Lee Rodrigues, 22.

Former civil servant Maria Clarke, 97, who has lived on the estate for 60 years said she suffered when the heating was not working for a few days in November.

“It was not very comfortable and I had my electric fire on. We are all worried. No one likes to sit in the cold,” she said.

Residents also fear boilers which provide hot water in their homes may not be safe.

“Visitors say they can smell gas from outside my flat. There is such a strong smell. I have three kids and I am worried,” said resident Loubna Rouaz.

Ms Rouaz said she was told she had nothing to worry about when she called maintenance company Mitie, which is contracted by the council to look after the estate.

According to TMO members, the estate should be getting new boilers in 2019, but Ms Chapman says residents are not prepared to wait that long.

Town Hall housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “The council is extremely concerned that elderly residents were left without heating for some time. The council and its contractors worked extre­mely hard to fix the heating problems as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there was also a reduction in water pressure due to a mains water leak, which meant it took longer for some flats to have heating restored.”

He added: “We are looking into what we can do in future should a ­similar incident occur.”

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