Last year I told the story of a 26 year old care leaver who was and is still living in Percival Terrace, you see a ceiling collapsed due to structural and disrepair issues which almost collapsed on him and his family, one year later its happened again in Westbourne Villas.
19-20 Westbourne Villas in Hove is an Emergency Accommodation building housing the some of most vulnerable people, on Friday I was contacted by a concerned resident with these images.
One resident said
They’ve already been and cleaned the flat up and ushered the resident to another building, the clean up has started
I understand the initial fall happened on the Thursday evening, whilst the resident was out.
I was then informed on the Friday that at around 1:30pm in the afternoon, the building began shaking and another fall happened.
ETHRAG The Emergency And Temporary Housing Residents Action Group, which I founded and am secretary of have discussed this and other incidents and contacted the ward Councillor Tom Bewick and the lead for homelessness Councillor Clare Moonan with the images and our concerns.
Clare Moonan was contacted by ETHRAG and has responded saying:
I will make some enquiries into this property and get back to you.
What Needs To Happen
- 19-20 Westbourne Villas, Hove needs to be inspected by Health and Safety and Council Structural Surveyors.
- The Building needs to be given the green light as safe.
- Ward Councillors need to ask for the inspections reports for these properties and see if these issues have been raised previously.
- Ward Councillors need to visit the building and talk with residents.
- Brighton and Hove City Council need to change the regulations around Temporary Accommodation and require landlords to provide structural surveys to ensure safety standards.
At A Recent Committee Meeting
Watch me ask the question at the Housing & New Homes Committee – Wed, 18th Jan 2017 – 4:00 pm – via the Brighton & Hove City Council Webcasting here.
On the 18th January I asked the council this question:
Can the council explain why they do not request and record structural survey reports for Emergency Accommodation buildings which house the vulnerable?
The Chair Anne Meadows said this
Structural Surveys remain the responsibility of the building owner or head licensee, the contracts contain standards required of the accommodation.
I then raised a further question stating the the Town, Country and Planning Act states that when buildings are listed that its the councils responsibility to enforce action to retain the buildings structure in accordance with the grade listed status.
The response was
I think we are going to have to get a written response to this, a full written response will be sent on to you. We will circulate the response to all members of the committee.
Basically people they the council are actually liable when these buildings are listed and they knew this, so they accepted it requires a written response, basically I was armed with knowledge know they would provide a pitiful response to my initial response which has to be submitted 7 days before to give them time to respond.
Your supplementary question is hidden and thats the key question in these matters, get the avoidance of responsibility in response to question number one and follow up with a killer question.
The Labour Council Needs To Do More
The images above, this blog and the people out there daily helping others deserve a voice and need to be heard, on some issues we are being heard, quietly! We are actually giving the councillors heads up yet they are still not listening.
The fact is these landlords like Baron Homes, are making over £1100 in total per room when you include management fees, now this regular income spread across literally 100’s of rooms in the city provides a nice regular income, which can be borrowed against and even remortgaged.
But the income continues, this capital is then used to buy more buildings and feed the role they now play in society, that is to literally suck the welfare state dry, if you consider tenants are vulnerable and often unemployed then this money is coming from housing benefit money.
The tax payer is paying for this poor practice, which has little regulation and safeguarding in place to protect the vulnerable with a legally binding housing duty, its these people who ultimately suffer and until this council realises this and walks with the people, I fear for the day when we have a catastrophe here in Brighton and Hove and lose lives.
Change needs to happen and it needs to happen fast Labour and Brighton and Hove City Council.