ITV News' Council Housing Report Exposed Appalling Conditions Croydon Residents Are Having To Endure
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
ITV News' recent housing report exposed some of the appalling living conditions in a South Norwood based tower block.
Earlier this week ITV revealed some of the shocking living conditions families are having to endure at a tower block in Regina Road, South Norwood. The horrific state of the South London flats have been labelled as "dangerous squalor" (Daniel Hewitt, ITV News Reporter) and the"worst housing conditions ever seen" (Polly Neate, Shelter Chief Executive.)
It was reported that since 2019 residents of the Regina Road flats have been complaining to Croydon Council about the leaks but despite numerous calls nothing has been done to help repair the issue. One resident, Fransoy Hewitt, who lives in the council block with her two sons who are aged five and seven, said that the way she has been treated "makes me feel like I am not even human" She then went on to share that she was not coping with the situation and devastating went on to say "There is only so much I can get angry, and pull my hair out - I just feel like I'm going to kill myself if I continue like that."
Another resident, Leroy McNally, also admitted that he has felt ignored by Croydon Council after persistently contacting them to try and get to issue resolved. He also shared his belief that the lack of support on the matter could be as a result of racial bias, claiming that he got a better response from the council when choosing to not use his christian name of 'Leroy.'
When discussing the state of the flat, news reporter Daniel Hewitt stated that "before you even see the black mould and the damp inside the flats, you can smell it in the corridors." He also added that "not even the pictures you can see do justice to the dangerous squalor residents, some of them young children, have been forced to endure for months.”
Fransoy Hewitt and her family have now been moved to temporary accommodation at a nearby hotel, where her and her two sons are sharing one room without access to food storage or facilities to wash clothes. However, Hewitt shared that she believes action was only taken due to the recent media exposure. She said "For too long I've been complaining and nothing happened and then just like that they want to respond because the media got involved."
She also shared her concerns that she and her family will be forgotten about now they've been moved to a temporary accommodation. Hewitt voiced "At the moment, I don't know how long I'm going to be here. I do worry that I'll be forgotten about here."
When speaking on the matter, Croydon Council leader Hamida Ali claimed she knew nothing of the conditions in the South Norwood based flats and reluctantly admitted that she can't confirm that there aren't other tower blocks within the borough dealing with similar issues.
Various government officials and members of the public have shared their outrage over the unacceptable living conditions and the local councils lack of support to those in need. In a statement issued to ITV News, Mayor Sadiq Khan said “I am shocked and deeply disturbed by the appalling conditions faced by these residents. It is completely unacceptable. I have contacted Croydon Council to request they re-house the residents immediately. Nobody in our city should have to live in such accommodation.”
Housing minister Robert Jenrick also expressed his concerns via Twitter, writing "People living in social housing must be treated with dignity and respect. And their complaints handled effectively. That's the heart of our recent Charter on Social Housing. I’m appalled by what has occurred in Croydon and will be seeking urgent answers from Croydon Council."
Prime Minster Boris Johnson has also addressed the matter, in a clip shown on ITV news earlier this week, he said "I greatly regret the story you've uncovered." Watch the full clip below.
Croydon Council bosses were called to give evidence in front of the government yesterday afternoon. During the committee meeting Labour MP Clive Betts questioned "Is this simply a matter of culture at the council that you could have tenants living in such appalling conditions and not being aware of it?" To which councillor Hamida Ali issued an apology and described what had happened as "completely unacceptable on every level."
The council have now confirmed that they will be undergoing an investigation into the conditions of all 16 of the borough’s similar high-rise housing blocks. They have also ensured that will be taking immediate action to help the residents already identified to be affected by the poor conditions. In a statement later shared online, Ali wrote "I am absolutely appalled by the horrific conditions our residents have been living in and we will leave no stone unturned in finding out how and why this has happened."
She also stated that “All our tenants should expect good-quality housing and proper care and it is clear that these standards were unacceptable" and made a promise to residents that they will "do everything we can to make sure that this never happens again.”
Hopefully, the recent news report has helped to highlight existing problems within the borough to the local council and government authorities and that moving forward a positive change will be seen and noticed amongst affected residents in and around Croydon.
Click here to watch the ITV news report in full!