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Southwark Council bosses meet with Ledbury Estate residents

On Wednesday 23rd August 2017, after many requests - Southwark Council finally called a meeting for residents of the Ledbury Estate tower blocks to give them an update on the crisis situation and answer residents questions.

In attendance from Southwark Council were:

  • Eleanor Kelly (CEO)

  • Peter John (Leader of Southwark Council)

  • Cllr. Stephanie Cryan (Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Housing)

  • Gerri Scott (Strategic Director of Housing & Modernisation)

  • Dave Markham (Asset Management & Head of Major Works)

  • Tony Hunter (Head of Engineering)

Summary of Southwark Council’s promises & assurances from the meeting

Heating, Hot Water & Cooking:

1) An electricity upgrade is required by UK Power Networks to enable the towers to be able to support the use of the new emersion water heaters, plus the greater use of electric cookers and other appliances such as fan and oil heaters. This upgrade is expected around 6th September.

2) The council are currently working their way around the flats installing the water heaters.

3) Southwark Council have proposed a new diesel-powered heating system which is expected to be in place by mid-October.

4) The emersion heaters are described as a ‘temporary solution’ until mid-October and it was suggested that they would no longer be needed once the permanent hot water and heating system is installed.

5) Full size electrical cookers will be provided by Southwark Council for those who previously had gas cookers, once the new electricity supply is able to cope with the higher usage.

Housing moves:

1) Southwark Council are currently in negotiations with Hyde Housing to buy the nearby new build development of 80 flats to use exclusively for Ledbury residents. It is hoped to be ready by November. The tenancies would be council tenancies, not Housing Association.

2) 94 Ledbury tenants are currently in ‘Band One’ on the council’s homesearch list. 31 residents are in the process of applying for ‘Band One’. 12 households have moved so far. 4 households have chosen to take up the offer of emergency temporary accommodation and are in B&B hotels.

3) The Housing Options team based at the Ledbury TRA hall on Pencraig Way will now be adopting a more flexible approach with tenants in relation to their bedroom needs. No-one is required to downsize.

4) Leaseholders were advised that there would be individual offers dependent on circumstances. (One resident leaseholder is trying to form a leaseholders group - please do contact her here)

5) The ‘Right To Return’ was once again promised for all who move out.

Structural Works & Issues:

1) An initial report from the ARUP engineers was expected Friday 25th August (to date we have not received this but are chasing it up.) We expect it imminently.

2) Further ARUP investigations will be undertaken on the panel joints starting on 11th September. The full report is due from ARUP with those findings towards the end of November. The report will be made public.

3) No records have been found relating to the Greater London Councils (GLC) ownership period, but records have been found from the date Southwark Council took over ownership of the towers in the 1980’s.

4) One block has had a permanent solution to the fire compartmentation issue fitted.

5) Gerri Scott stated that the towers are safe, which was later partially retracted by Peter John.

Major Works programme:

1) The nature, timing and level of disruption is still unclear at this time as this all rests on the final ARUP report. There is still no definitive answer as to whether residents will have to move out during major works or not.

2) Full redecoration and refurbishment of the flats was promised as part of the major works

Financial Assistance:

1) Specific financial issues must be dealt with via the staff in the Ledbury TRA hall, these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

2) A cheque to cover higher utility costs will be hand delivered to all residents by 1st September. An increased payment will be made to the Peterchurch residents who have been without heating/hot water for longer.

3) A further ’compensation package’ will be considered as part of the council's investigation into the whole Ledbury situation.

Any other business:

1) Cllr. Stephanie Cryan has promised a full investigation into the Ledbury towers issues which will be completed by the end of the year.

2) Cllrs. Peter John & Stephanie Cryan have made a commitment to keep the Ledbury land exclusively for council Housing in the future.

3) Cllr. Stephanie Cryan promised to look into and solve the multiple issues reported relating to treatment and information received from staff at the TRA hall.

Notes and updates from Ledbury Action Group:

1) Southwark Liberal Democrat and Southwark Labour Party have both agreed that the Ledbury land should remain exclusively council Housing and have promised this will be in their upcoming manifestos.

2) The Ledbury Action Group are working with the Tenants & Residents Association and the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations to explore the possibility of employing the services of an ‘Independent Tenants & Leaseholder Advisor’ for the estate. If you are interested in finding out more about this or getting involved in the selection process please email us via the contact page as soon as possible.

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