Chalcots estate residents threatened with eviction after ‘heavy objects’ allegedly thrown at workers
Legal warning is "ridiculous", say residents living with months' of disturbance
20 November, 2017 — By William McLennan
CAMDEN Council have threatened residents of the Chalcots estate with eviction following allegations that contractors carrying out fire safety works were “threatened and intimidated” and had “heavy objects” thrown at them.
Residents at the high-rise towers, where a dramatic evacuation followed by months of disturbances is said to have left people “at the end of their tether”, called the legal warning “ridiculous”.
Thousands of people were forced from their homes at a moment’s notice in June and spent a month in temporary accommodation after the tower blocks were found to have a list of internal safety defects, as well as being wrapped in flammable cladding similar to that used at Grenfell Tower.
While questions remain over failings that led the towers to be become a fire hazard, urgent works have been taking place to rectify the defects and residents have lived on a building site for nearly four months since returning home at the end of July.
The constant disturbance, coupled with the presence of security guards at the entrance to the towers, have been a persistent cause for complaint for many who live in the towers.
Work is now underway to remove the plastic-filled aluminium panels and the letter to residents said the Town Hall had received reports of “heavy objects being thrown at contractors whilst they are completing cladding removal works”.
On one occasion the council reported a “portable landline telephone” had been thrown and warned: “This has the potential for serious injury, or even death, to contractors or the public.”
Residents said that it appeared as though the only objects to be have fallen from windows were toys, dropped from the hands of unattended children.
The letter, sent only to residents of Dorney and Taplow today, said: “I am writing to you following a small number of incidents anti-social behaviour in your block. These reports include heavy objects being thrown at contractors whilst they are completing cladding removal works and in some instances, council officers and contractors being directly threatened and intimidated.
“This behaviour is not acceptable and we remind residents that any violent anti-social behaviour is a serious breach of tenancy conditions. Where incidents of antisocial behaviour are substantiated, legal action may apply.”
An earlier letter, signed by Camden’s barrister, said: “Please be advised that if a perpetrator of perpetrators are identified the council will ask police to investigate which could result in a criminal conviction.
“The council also has civil remedies in the form of eviction action against tenants and forfeiture action against leaseholders”
Mandy Ryan, who lives in Dorney, said the letter was “ridiculous” and felt like all residents were being accused of committing a crime.
“Instead of identifying the culprits, they’re just threatening all of us,” she said.
The on-going disturbances over the past months had worn away at her patience, she said, adding: “People are at the end of their tether. It’s the noise that is doing peoples’ heads in.”
Security guards with “body worn cameras” have been positioned beneath the workers to capture evidence of any items being thrown, the council said.
Ms Ryan said that it was “business as usual” for discarded items to be thrown from the upper floors of the tower, and said that similar complaints raised with the council before the evacuation had fallen on deaf ears.
Her neighbour Diane McCarogher said: “When several of us were almost hit with heavy objects or water bombs a couple of years ago we were told by Camden that they couldn’t get cameras as it was ‘an invasion of resident’s privacy’. Guess the builders are more important than us.”
She added: “I hate having all the security etc here. I don’t feel it’s for us. I hate having to walk past them every time I go in and out. Some are friendly and try to be unobtrusive but others just sit and stare.”