Tuesday 3 July 2012 12.26am
Three years ago on this day six residents died in an inferno at Lakanal House due to defective fire safety. Southwark Council
's neglect slaughtered these people. On the three-year anniversary of this tragedy fire regulations are being broken again in a Southwark Council
tower block. Perronet House
, an award winning eleven storey block of 90 flats at Elephant and Castle is blighted by a need for small repairs that create a huge risk even though £1m was spent in late 2009 making emergency upgrades for fire safety due to an enforcement order from London Fire Brigade.
I'm a resident there and campaigning to get this fixed. I believe it's symptomatic of a truly rotten and defective housing department in Southwark Council
, one ridden with incompetence, absenteeism and job vacancies and the distractions of glamorous redevelopment projects and tidy "warmer safer dryer" projects in fortunate specific locations.
For more than two months two communal fire doors remain almost permanently open, stuck on the ground by defective door stoppers and hinges allowing flames to pass unhindered and a metal chute hopper is defective enabling smoke to rise rapidly through the eleven storey building.
As secretary of the Perronet House
TRA I first raised the issue of the fire doors on 15 May with his Ms Modupe Somoye, Resident Services Manager for the Southwark Council
’s North Area Housing Services. Since then I've written again, have met her in person at an Area Housing Forum and taken John Bryan the Resident Manager on a walkabout in his block pointing out the problems. Despite further assurances seven weeks have now passed since I first raised the issue. Ms Somoye has recently tried to blame Mr Bryan for the delay, despite the fact he has been off work with illness for several months this year - no cover was provided. Last week he announced his retirement. Modupe has no boss because the job has been vacant for months. This evening I attempted to raise the matter at a public Community Council Q&A session with the leader of Southwark Council
Peter John, but his fawning chair Cllr Martin Seaton pointedly refused to let me speak suspicious, I believe based on past meetings, that I might cause them embarrassment.
I am one of about forty leaseholders in the block at Elephant and Castle who were forced to contribute about £13,500 each to pay for the emergency fire safety upgrades, paying for many years of neglect and failed investment – a cost which has effectively increased my mortgage payments by 50% for three years. But now that money seems wasted as the risk of being engulfed in flames has begun to increase through negligence and incompetence at Southwark Council
I will be carrying the Olympic Flame through Southwark on 26 July 2012 - an honour that comes from gardening as a guerrilla where Southwark Council
and TfL have neglected to do their job. I hope being a torchbearer helps me shine a light on council negligence where lives are at stake and prevents flames from spreading to where they don't belong.
If you've got problems with Housing Services addressing matters of life and death then please get in touch. We need to campaign for dramatic change before a drama happens. Cllr Noakes and Cllr Hickson have said this evening they are keen to help. They need more vocal support of this issue or evidence if they're to change the culture within the Southwark Housing department.