Asbestos, leaks and rodents: An ‘upgrade’ for Macintosh Court?

Elderly residents are living in hazardous conditions at Macintosh Court on Leigham Court Road, Streatham, following another failure by the Labour-run council.

Liberal Democrats Helen Thompson and Doug Buist visited tenants at the sheltered housing complex on 6th October 2018, to see first-hand the deplorable state of the houses following the so-called improvement works.  

Asbestos, leaks and rodents

Tenants at the Grade II listed sheltered housing complex were told in December 2017 to expect upgrades to their homes that would take six months, costing the public purse around £2m. Ten months down the line, they are still living in half-finished homes, many of which are feared to contain asbestos.

Following the installation of new roofing, several residents’ ceilings started leaking and one fell in altogether, exposing the deadly asbestos that riddles the building. Residents are worried that the building works have disturbed the deadly substance.


Liberal Democrats Helen Thompson and Doug Buist speak with tenants

“I am scared to invite my daughter and grandchildren over,” said Janet Gayle, Secretary of the Residents’ Association. “I don’t know if I am putting them in harm’s way”.

“The council hasn’t kept us informed,” added John Beechey, chair of the Residents’ Association. “We received no information about the asbestos issues. In the end I took photos of the asbestos records in the contractors’ office to get to the truth.

“We have contacted our local MP Chuka Umunna, who to date, hasn't had the courtesy to respond. Instead, Labour’s Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Housing Paul Gadsby seems to be acting as gatekeeper - stringing us along with his deepest apologies, lies and unkept promises. Our hope was that Cllr Paul Gadsby would have thoroughly investigated the urgent issues regarding asbestos in our homes following his visit here.” John Beechey is now working on a class action lawsuit against Lambeth Council.  

It is not just the asbestos issue that has caused issues for residents. As building works progressed, the residents report that they faced a litany of additional issues caused by shoddy contractors, including:

  • No safety measures while asbestos was being removed from houses
  • No consideration of disabled people’s access needs
  • Increased rodent problems because of gaps left by pipe work
  • Personal property destroyed when builders drilled holes through walls without warning, drilling into kitchen appliances
  • New radiators and piping leaking and causing floods, destroying carpets
  • Alteration of the listed building’s features, including causing huge holes in the terraced walkway as contractors stomped on top of this fragile construction.


Exposed pipes have caused rodent problems

The council is now telling residents that the project has gone over budget, so original planned repairs like fixing the signature terraced walkway are cancelled.

Unanswered questions and repeated failures

Lambeth Council has already admitted to contravening rules on preserving the appearance of listed buildings, but there are many more questions to answer.


Listed features such as this walkway are left in state of disrepair

Lambeth Liberal Democrats are demanding answers from Lambeth council’s ruling Labour group. We want to know:

  • What will Lambeth Council do to assess any health risks to residents exposed to asbestos and duly compensate them?
  • Where has the money gone on this project? Has Lambeth Council paid a contractor which has failed to deliver the agreed scope of work or meet performance standards?
  • Will Lambeth Council reimburse residents their rent for the time that their properties were virtually unliveable?

Unfortunately, this case is typical of Lambeth housing management. We have seen similar shoddy work in Loughborough Estate and other parts of the borough. It’s time that Lambeth Labour are held to account for their repeated failures on social housing and their failure to protect some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

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