Delayed Flight

‘I can’t answer that question’: Council leader can’t say if ‘unliveable’ housing conditions aren’t wider Croydon problem.

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The appalling state of two south London flats dubbed the “worst housing conditions ever seen” could be replicated in other tower blocks within the same borough.

On Monday, ITV News revealed the dangerous squalor Croydon residents have been living in, despite repeated calls to the council for repairs.

Since 2019, residents of the block on Regina Road in South Norwood have been complaining to their landlord, Croydon Council, of leaks in their flats – leaks that made their homes uninhabitable.

Pressed on how widespread the problem could be, council leader Hamida Ali admitted she cannot know for sure there aren’t other tower blocks dealing with the same issues.

“All 16 of the similar blocks in the borough will be reviewed and looked at as part of this inquiry,” she told ITV News.

“It needs to be very quick, I’ve asked for it to be completed within two weeks and we absolutely need that confidence.

“I can’t answer that question here and that is not acceptable and that is precisely why this action is being taken.”

Cllr Ali was asked five times if she is personally ashamed to be leading a council that presided over these living conditions.

Finally, she admitted she is.

In one of the more concerning allegations raised to ITV News, Leroy McNally, whose flat is covered in mould and damp, said he believes racism may be behind the council’s slow response.

He said: “I’d say ‘my name’s Leroy, Leroy McNally’ and I got a feeling that puts them on the off-foot because straight away they’re (thinking) ‘Leroy – black person, we don’t want to deal with this person’.”Eventually I started saying my name is Mr McNally – I wouldn’t say Leroy – and I got a better response.”

To this, Cllr Ali said: “That’s a really concerning experience that Mr McNally has shared, I would want that to be part of the inquiry that we do to to understand exactly what has happened.

“And that that will need to be addressed as part of the inquiry. That’s a really shocking experience that he’s shared.”

Fransoy Hewitt, who was moved from her accommodation into a hotel on Friday, has not been contacted by Cllr Ali since her move and she fears “being forgotten about”.

Asked why she has not called Ms Hewitt, Cllr Ali, who has spoken to Mr McNally, said “One of the issues that I’m going to be raising is making sure that we are in contact with our residents to understand exactly what their experiences and to make that as comfortable as possible in the in these horrific circumstances.”

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