Council tenant’s asbestos report ignored for months

Council tenant in Edmonton left waiting six months for asbestos to be removed, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Copperfield Mews (credit Google)
Copperfield Mews in Edmonton (credit Google)

An NHS worker said she had been left at her “wits’ end” after Enfield Council failed to sort out an asbestos problem in her children’s rooms.

Marsha Francis, who lives in Copperfield Mews, Edmonton, said she was “fed up” with the delays in removing the asbestos, which she felt should have been dealt with as an emergency.

She said the council had been asked to carry out an asbestos test nearly six months ago. But after repeated visits by contractors, she was still waiting for the problem to be dealt with and, in the meantime, her son and daughter could not sleep in their rooms.

With a demanding job at the accident and emergency department of North Middlesex Hospital – Marsha worked throughout the pandemic and caught Covid-19 twice – she said more stress was the last thing she needed.

“I’m fed up,” she said. “I’m going back and forth, back and forth. The asbestos is flaking, but no-one seems to be taking me seriously. 

“We all know what asbestos is – it should be dealt with as an emergency. I’m at my wits’ end.”

Asbestos, which is now banned in the UK but can still be found in many older buildings, can cause cancer and lung disease if it degrades and the fibres are not safely contained.

Marsha said a contractor came to fix what she thought was a leak in the roof several months ago. He reported it to the council and requested an asbestos test. Weeks later, someone visited to carry out the test and sent a report to the council.

After hearing nothing for a month, Marsha said she called the council and was told the report was positive for asbestos. The member of staff told her she could not understand why it had not been “actioned” and said she was going to send an email to ensure it was dealt with.

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But when nothing happened, Marsha called the council again. 

“I work in A&E,” she said. “I don’t have time to sit and wait for hours. Sometimes you can be on hold for 60 minutes. 

“When I finally did get someone, they didn’t know what had happened to the report. They said they [the council] were no longer working with that company, so they would have to raise it with a new job, so I had to sit and wait for another appointment.” 

Another contractor carried out a test on 7th July, Marsha said. But when she called the council for the report, she was told they did not have it , even though the contractor said it had sent the report to the council on the 9th. 

Marsha then raised a complaint with the council and said she would approach a newspaper. She said a manager then visited her, telling her the problem would be sorted out and she would get a call back the same evening – but two weeks later, she had still not heard from him.

Marsha said: “It is ridiculous – something as serious as that, and my daughter has to be inconvenienced and is sleeping on the sofa. It is not good for her back.

“I worked throughout Covid and caught Covid twice,” she added. “The last thing I want is added stress.”

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “A very low-grade asbestos [chrysotile] was discovered at 25 Copperfield Mews. As soon as we were notified by our contractors, we made arrangements for the asbestos to be removed and an air test was carried out. We are sorry the resident had to contact us regarding its removal. This is a matter we will be addressing with the contractor.”

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