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Hackney Council to mend woman's window it 'temporarily' bolted shut five years ago

PUBLISHED: 14:41 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:52 11 December 2017

Joanne Rouley cuts up washing up sponges to fill the gaps in her kitchen window. Picture: Polly Hancock

Joanne Rouley cuts up washing up sponges to fill the gaps in her kitchen window. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A woman whose fourth-floor window was bolted shut by the council five years ago has begged bosses to fix it, saying it could be a lifesaving fire escape.

Joanne Rouley’s kitchen window where she has filled the gaps around the frame with cut up spongesJoanne Rouley’s kitchen window where she has filled the gaps around the frame with cut up sponges

Joanne Rouley, 52, moved into her home in South Hackney in 2012. Workers were called soon after because of a problem with her kitchen window.

But the contractors said the only way to fix it would be to put up scaffolding on the side of her block – something that would cost the council too much to do.

Joanne accepted the explanation but after watching the tragic Grenfell Tower inferno on the news she realised she wouldn’t be able to escape her own home in the case of a fire.

“It scared the life out of me,” she told the Gazette. “My brother said to me there’s no way I would be able to get out if there was a fire here and I should contact the council.

“I got on to them in July and they said I shouldn’t have been told they wouldn’t put the scaffolding up. But over the last six months I’ve been pushed from pillar to post. It’s still not been done.”

The town hall said the window was bolted shut as a “temporary” measure until a repair could be made. Chiefs have now arranged for the window to be fixed but contractors this week told Joanne the ordered parts wouldn’t arrive until after Christmas.

A council spokesman said: “We would like to apologise for this unacceptable delay in getting the window repaired. We will be urgently contacting the contractor responsible and ensuring they make an appointment to repair the window as soon as possible.”

The council is currently carrying out a full review of fire safety, which includes cladding and insulation, to ensure all its properties are safe in the wake of Grenfell.

Mayor Phil Glanville slammed Philip Hammond’s budget for not giving town halls a single penny to pay for the fire safety checks ordered across the country.

“Councils so far have all been turned down for any funding and it shouldn’t be about individual authorities being forced to beg for additional resources,” he said. “There needs to be a concerted national response to this tragedy and its long-term implications.”

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