The Independent London Newspaper
23rd April 2019

‘Get out of the kitchen!’

    Man tells council workmen to leave after ‘Decent Homes’ ordeal

    HOUSING bosses say 96.6 per cent of tenants are delighted with a refurbishment programme delivering new kitchens and bathrooms to council homes – so the residents of one Kentish Town street must just have been unlucky.
    Everybody in St Leonard’s Square seems to hate it.
    And in what neighbours of the close-knit cul-de-sac off Malden Road say is the worst example of how the project can misfire, one family’s life has been turned upside down for 15 weeks with the end of the works still not in sight.
    Christopher Canty said he felt enough was enough on Thursday afternoon and “slung out” the workmen fixing up his family’s house.
    Even Lib Dem housing chief Councillor Chris Naylor described the family’s experience of the “Decent Homes” project as an “ordeal” as he publicly apologised for the delays yesterday (Wednesday).
    Mr Canty said: “They have painted our kitchen three times and now they say they are going to do it again, that’s the mess of it. When I asked them why it was being done in different shades, they said it was hard to find paint to match magnolia.
    “You go into the toilet and it makes you feel sea-sick because the floor isn’t level. The water pressure is less than before and they haven’t even painted the inside of the bathroom window because they say that counts as external work.”
    Showing paste left around a plug socket, Mr Canty, who lives in the terraced house with his wife and two sons, said: “This is what they call a finished job.”
    The repairs programme is spreading across Camden’s council homes. Controversially, it is being funded by the sale of some council houses at auction and the Town Hall insists it does not have enough money to do a deluxe job. A deal brokered with contractors was limited to only must-have improvements.
    Nevertheless, Camden Council claims the vast majority of the work has met with satisfaction and words of gratitude – and last week press officials boasted that 96.6 per cent of tenants were happy.
    Liberal Democrat housing chief Councillor Chris Naylor has visited properties in the street twice, persuaded to meet residents by Mike Cookson-Taylor from the Camden Association of Street Properties (Casp).
    Petra Dando, from Casp, added: “At the moment we are trying to assess the seriousness of the situation; we are having reports from tenants, good and bad.”
    She urged those with concerns to contact the association for advice.
    Cllr Naylor said: “I’m absolutely sure we are doing the right thing to get tenants’ homes up to a decent standard at last. Some kitchens and bathrooms we are replacing are 30 or more years old. I am pleased that thousands of families are already benefiting from our modernisations.”
    But he added: “I know there are real problems in some St Leonard’s Square homes – I am already looking into this. In the case of the residents at [Mr Canty’s house] it’s clear we should have done better and must apologise. I have visited and they have my sympathies. Works to their home have been ongoing for too long, complicated by discovery of damp. This has been an ordeal for them which we must get sorted directly.”
    RICHARD OSLEY

    Comments

    get out of my kitchen

    Where on earth does the Council get "96.6 per cent of tenants are delighted" from ? Does Councillor Chris Naylor go around the Borough with clip board in hand asking innocent folk "are you delighted with our new kitchens and bathrooms"? We are asked to believe that only 3.4 % of the residents have said something short of "I am delighted", nobody said OK, Not too bad, satisfactory, and nobody sait terrible, shocking, appaling, frightening. The 3.4 % includes those on holiday, in hospital, too ill to answer the door, night shift workers, persons with disabilities and so on. Why, Why does the good Councillor Chris Naylor NEVER come across the people that complained to the camden New Journal last week and again this week. Not all residents are as knowledgeable about building work as Christopher Canty. The need to paint the kitchen 3 times tells me that something is seriously wrong there, there may even be a fire risk. Councillor Naylor please in the interests of the safety of your tenants and leaseholders and the Council Tax payers would you be kind enough please to procure the services of INDEPENDENT professional Quality Control surveyors who will report to a Scruting Committee, or residents NOT to the Officers who have got us all into this mess. Please Cllr Naylor do not wait for another tragedy associated with a Council building.

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