News

Resident reveals worsening conditions at tower block with no gas

Walbrook House’s gas supply was cut last July because of safety fears, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Walbrook House and (inset) the mould in Dourette's flat
Walbrook House and (inset) the mould in Dorette’s flat

Families left in an Edmonton tower block with no gas supply are “freezing” and suffering from worsening damp and mould after being given “inadequate” heating, a resident has said.

Leaseholder Dorette Wright, who owns a flat in Walbrook House, fears her family’s health is being put at risk by the mould but said they had been “left in limbo” because Enfield Council had not given them any answers about how it would deal with the problems.

Dorette shares the flat with her daughter Rochelle Wright-Clarke and grandchildren Kenzo, five, and two-month-old Kyrie. The family have now moved to temporary accommodation after accepting an offer from the council but do not want to return home to face the same issues.

Walbrook House had its gas supply cut off in July last year because of structural safety fears. Most residents have moved out of the block, but according to the council 26 are still living in the building. The 23-storey tower also had its cladding removed in 2019 because of fire safety concerns, but it was not replaced. After the cost of safety works soared from £14million to £23m, the council decided to consider other options for the building, including demolition and redevelopment.

Dorette told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Everyone in the block has been experiencing mould, damp and condensation. We’ve been trying to get answers from the council about what they are going to do about it. It is putting our health at risk.

“We’ve had it [mould] on the window sills. There is so much water and condensation, it is bubbling the wallpaper. There is mould on the windows and ceiling in the bedroom, mould on the settee and wall, [it’s] pretty much in every room.”

Dorette said mould had been a problem since the cladding was removed, but it had worsened since the gas central heating system was turned off. “People are freezing,” she said. “The heating is inadequate. They have put in blow heaters, but they don’t heat up the room at all – and the amount of energy they are using for ten minutes is absolutely ridiculous. We’ve not been able to use them because of the expense.


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“A lot of people have had to buy their own heaters, and the heat is going out the window. They are telling us to keep the place ventilated. We have young children. Some people have children with asthma and different issues.”

Although the council had carried out a mould wash at the family’s flat, Dorette said it started to reappear after three days. The family were told to move while the mould wash took place to avoid harming their baby’s health, she added. Dorette said she and her daughter had been experiencing “lightheadedness” that had disappeared when they spent a week away from the flat, and they wondered if it was linked to the mould.

Dorette added that everyone remaining in the block was looking for the council to deal with the damp and mould but could not get answers from the civic centre. She claimed the council had pledged to carry out a consultation with residents in September, but that did not happen.

“It’s appalling,” she said. “We told them we have a newborn and a five-year-old, and we just wanted to get answers. We are living in temporary accommodation but don’t want to go back there with the same issues. We need some clarity about how to move forward.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council has engaged at length with all the residents at Walbrook House and has responded to their calls for the building to be disused as it is no longer fit for purpose. Enfield Council continues to make concerted efforts to ensure all tenants and leaseholders are protected as we plan for the future of Walbrook House.

“The priority for Enfield Council is to ensure all our homes are safe and secure, now and in the future. The council is looking at a number of proposals for the future of the block and will liaise with Walbrook’s residents once we are sure these options are deliverable, economically viable and in the interest of all parties.

“There are currently 26 residents in the building. We have already provided transfers to more than 70 Walbrook households who have settled into new homes. Those that remain have been offered electrical heating and a stipend to help with additional costs. Also, the council has set up a taskforce to oversee the organisational-wide response to damp and mould, ensuring we take a fully joined-up approach across council services.

“We have strengthened our reactive and proactive response to damp and mould issues, prioritising households containing vulnerable people. We would also encourage people to report issues at www.enfield.gov.uk/condensation.”


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