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Fed up Peabody tenants in Stoke Newington form campaign group to pressure housing association over repairs

PUBLISHED: 09:02 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:46 09 August 2018

The scaffolding that was up for two years.

The scaffolding that was up for two years.

Archant

A group of fed-up Peabody tenants in Stoke Newington have formed a campaign group after years of complaints about the housing association’s repair work.

Michael and Elizabeth Kelly stand in their bedroom with the temporary ceiling brace above where their bed should be. Picture: Polly HancockMichael and Elizabeth Kelly stand in their bedroom with the temporary ceiling brace above where their bed should be. Picture: Polly Hancock

Peabody Family Voice was only launched in January but already has members from all over London.

A spokesperson, who did not want to be named, told the Gazette it was formed after tenants from St Kilda’s Road had attended a meeting with chiefs from the association over problems with their block.

The group are all former tenants of Family Mosaic, which is now part of Peabody. The spokesperson said: “We went to a meeting because we were so angry that scaffolding had been up for two years. It covered our garden area.

“Our complaint was escalated but they just offered 14 of us in the block £23 each for our troubles. I’ve lived here 23 years, as has my neighbour – some have been here since the block was built in the ’70s.”

The scaffolding eventually came down in April.The scaffolding eventually came down in April.

The scaffolding eventually came down in April but the group feel maintenance of their homes and blocks is well below the standard expected, and has been getting progressively worse for decades. The group is also annoyed the switchboard has been centralised and say it’s almost impossible to get through to the right people.

The spokesperson added: “I was initially a tenant of New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, one of the first generation of housing associations that had a radical outlook and were for poor people and people with social needs.

“Back then the maintenance was done on a local basis. I had a man named Ted when I was living in a basement flat round the back of the reservoir and it was brilliant.

“I still like living in a housing association, but the local feel has gone.

A party is being held to celebrate the removal of this scaffolding. Disgruntled Peabody tenants from the group will attend, with a prize for the block that has had scaffolding up for the longest time.A party is being held to celebrate the removal of this scaffolding. Disgruntled Peabody tenants from the group will attend, with a prize for the block that has had scaffolding up for the longest time.

“When it changed its name to Mosaic we were left out in the wilderness. And Mosaic then merged with a housing association called Family Housing.

“Then they really burst out of Hackney and Islington. That was the point at which repairs and maintenance started to go down.”

The group said 75 per cent of complaints at the meeting were about repairs, 20 per cent were about rent and five per cent were about other issues. At least six other people have had issues with scaffolding being left up for extended periods.

“Somebody somewhere must be paying for all this scaffolding,” they added.

The scaffolding that has been up for two years now.The scaffolding that has been up for two years now.

The group wants to hear from anyone with issues.

A tongue-in-cheek party to celebrate the scaffolding coming down will take place a week on Sunday, with a prize for the tenants whose scaffolding was up for the longest time.

“We want to get together and basically let them know we will not put up with it anymore,” they said.

Others to experience issues with Peabody include 69-year-old Elizabeth Kelly, a tenant in Burma Road, who was in bed when her ceiling collapsed due to a leak in the flat above. It wasn’t fixed for three weeks.

Gavin Watson's roof after the most recent work to fix the problem. Picture: Gavin WatsonGavin Watson's roof after the most recent work to fix the problem. Picture: Gavin Watson

And Gavin Watson, another tenant in Burma Road, has been in and out of temporary accommodation at the association’s expense for a decade because of issues with his roof.

He said: “I was only moved back to my property in February after six months in temporary accommodation.

“I have been decanted, in total, seven times in 10 years and have had two notable periods being forced to live in a hotel and it is always catastrophic for my mental health.”

Gavin is still not happy with the work, but is refusing to move out again because of the upheaval. He says Peabody is spending thousands of pounds on temporary accommodation and legal services to take him to court, when fixing the problem would cost a fraction of that.

A Peabody spokesperson said: “We have offered quite a few options over a long period of time to try and help Mr Watson, including providing temporary accommodation. There has been more than one problem with the roof and we understand Mr Watson’s frustration.

“Previous works were inspected and approved by an independent expert as well as our own surveyors. Unfortunately Mr Watson does not accept the conclusion.”

The spokesperson added Peabody wanted to resolve the issues but couldn’t unless Gavin gave workers access.

Peabody did not respond to a request for comment about the Peabody Family Voice campaign.

Anyone experiencing issues can contact the group at pfvoice.org.uk.

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