Those leaving the south London estate also want to see previous surveys and fire assessments
Residents of the Ledbury Estate in south London have demanded the publication of Arup’s structural assessment of their homes, as well as the release of all previous surveys and fire inspection findings, after Southwark council cut off gas supplies amid safety fears.
Already furious after cracks were found between floors and walls of adjoining flats throughout the tower blocks and fearful of a repeat of the Grenfell tragedy, campaigning residents have sent a list of more than two dozen demands to the council, including the resignation of Stephanie Cryan, Southwark’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing, in the wake of its decision to stop supplying gas to flats across the estate in Peckham.
The move has led to a number of residents leaving their homes for alternative accommodation.
Last week Southwark wrote to residents, warning them that following investigations by Arup it had emerged that strengthening work on the blocks which had been earmarked following the Ronan Point disaster in 1968 had not been carried out.
In the letter to residents, dated 10 August, Gerri Scott, Southwark’s strategic director for housing and modernisation, said that following Arup’s findings the council had opted to turn off the gas to all flats, until further investigations could be carried out.
“We are doing all we can to provide residents with alternatives while the gas is turned off, and are working up a plan to permanently replace the gas with electric ovens, boilers, etc, as part of the wider works, should that be necessary.
“We have also written to the Department of Communities and Local Government to inform them of this issue, as it may well have implications for other blocks around the country that were constructed in this way.”
However, the council’s latest letter has done nothing to quell the concerns of residents, one of whom described the situation to Building as “diabolical”.
The issue of the cracks, which have been present for some time, was resurrected by residents after the Grenfell fire, in which up to 80 people are feared to have died. Southwark council said last month that Arup was investigating the structural integrity of the blocks. The firm’s findings have yet to be made available to residents, according to sources on the estate.
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told Building: “We’ve been given no timeline (for evacuation during the works), despite being told in the 10 August letter that we will be ‘decanted’ over the coming weeks and months. It’s a diabolical situation.”
A Twitter entry from the Ledbury Action Group dated 15 August suggested residents were already moving out: “Heartbreaking to be leaving #LedburyEstate today. All our memories were made here, our babies born here. Our home. Still we must soldier on.”
The demands were drawn up by residents at an impromptu meeting called by the unofficial ‘Ledbury Action Group’ last weekend. A resident emailed a copy of the draft demands to a local councillor, while another meeting hosted by the Southwark group of Tenants Organisations yesterday drew up those demands with the aim of posting them “via official channels”, the source said.
The residents’ list of issues are:
· Do residents really have to move out during the major works and will there be forced evictions for residents who refuse this?
· A timetable for all proposed actions by the council released to residents urgently
· How long have the council known about these dangers? All historical documentation relating to the towers needs to be released immediately
· The opportunity to be rehoused on secure council tenancies in the local area with a written agreement for all residents regarding their rights
· How long are residents expected to stay in temporary accommodation?
· When will proper electric cookers be supplied?
· Will the cost of the higher rent in housing association properties be met by the council?
· The option of a right to return to stay open for all tenants who move out into council or housing association properties with original secure tenancies intact
· Overcrowded tenants should be able to apply for a larger property now to save another move in the near future
· The housing application procedure needs to be fast tracked for Ledbury residents
· Full transparency about the council’s long-term housing plans for this land and a written commitment that the blocks will not be demolished
· Will personal belongings be able to be left in properties? If not then secure storage at the council’s expense must be made available for tenants who wish to return
· An emergency buy-up of local new builds needs to be arranged to ease the pressure on the council housing waiting list
· The council needs to pay for all extra expenses incurred during our temporary moves
· Stop charging rent now
· Qualification for right to buy discount must be unaffected
· Immediate interim compensation paid to all residents directly and not into our rent accounts
· Reimburse the Peterchurch residents who have been living without gas for a month for their higher fuel costs
· A legal commitment to ensure council housing will remain on this land
· The resignation of Cllr Cryan
· More information for leaseholders regarding buy-back, previous surveys, compensation and temporary accommodation costs
· Release the Arup report and all relevant documentation so far
· Release all previous surveys and fire safety assessments of the towers
· Consider phasing the major works block by block
· Council staff must reach out to tenants with mobility issues and keep them fully informed
Southwark council had not returned calls for comment by the time of publication.