Horrors of social housing in Sheffield revealed as former housing cabinet member says ‘enough is enough’

Rubbish at the tower of Robertshaw House, Netherthorpe. (Photo: LDRS)

“I am horrified by what I see, I am even more horrified by what is going to happen in the near future,” said the former Sheffield Council housing cabinet member who lives with his partner in the Robertshaw Tower House, Netherthorpe. .

From their 14th floor apartment, he can smell the unbearable stench of rotten garbage below and the pollution of the main road that passes a few yards without a green barrier.

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Outside the windows there are insect infestations and dead birds that have been trapped between the siding. There are cracks in the walls, mold and ceiling leaks.

A neighboring family with two young children was forced to evacuate due to a ‘waterfall’ leak in their apartment (Photo: LDRS)

He can smell people smoking on the stairs despite three doors between him and them. He fears that the fall of the trash can ignite again and that he will be forced to inhale noxious fumes.

When he leaves his apartment, he sometimes sees sleepers in the street taking refuge on the stairs. As he exits the tower, he sees garbage dumped inside and outside the building. Among the garbage piles and landfills surrounding the tower, there may be drug use and anti-social behavior, and tenants from neighboring towers throwing garbage out of windows.

If he looks up, he will see algae and moss growing on the walls.

“You wouldn’t put a dog in these conditions,” he said. “There is no excuse for what happened here.”

Garbage left outside the apartment block (Photo: LDRS)

Mr MacLoughlin said these were daily experiences for the residents of the building and fears tenants in the other 23 towers belonging to Sheffield Council will suffer in the same way.

He said some officers had handled the issues well, but now he has lost faith in the council. He said: “At the end of the day, the money has to stop somewhere. If there is rot, who is going to take responsibility? “

Just recently, a neighboring family with two young children was forced to evacuate due to a “waterfall” leak in their apartment. The council arranged for them to stay in a hotel, but the family was turned away apparently because the council did not pay. As a result, they lived outside in the hallway until the alarm went off and the council finally moved them to temporary accommodation.

Mr MacLoughlin said the problems were not new.

Before the UK was hit by Covid-19, dozens of vulnerable residents were effectively confined to their homes between Christmas Eve and New Years 2019, when one elevator was being renovated and the other was Out of order.

Jean Hodgkin, who is almost 80, said she was stuck in her 12th-floor apartment for a week and her daughter had to climb 24 flights of stairs to deliver food and other essentials .

Councilor Paul Wood, a member of the cabinet for housing, said the council’s engineers were present within half an hour of the notification on Christmas Eve, but failed to fix it for a week as some parts needed were not available. The service apologized and said it would take action to prevent this from happening again.

The same elevator that broke and then broke down again last month and a man was reportedly stuck inside for 45 minutes.

Other council tenants across town have experienced similar nightmares and have struggled to get the support they need.

In February this year, the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed a family’s struggle to leave their Fox Hill city council after years of racist attacks from neighbors. They were in “unbearable suffering” from repeated damage to their car, throwing stones at their homes, false accusations of dumping flies, verbal abuse and physical assault.

Despite a recommendation from the Parson Cross neighborhood team of the South Yorkshire Police to leave the area, they had to stay as the alternative property proposed by the council was in poor condition and in poor condition, the family said.

The council said they were keen to resolve any issues and continue to examine the options available, but at the time the family contested this and said they had not received support.

It was reported earlier this month that a vulnerable man, who lives in a council apartment in Walkley, had a broken floor pipe seeping into his house for three years despite calls from neighbors to move him in a safer place. The board reportedly tried unsuccessfully to resolve the problem.

Maintenance issues exploded during Covid when the government suspended all but urgent work. Snapshot figures from a council report showed that as of March 30 – when service was fully restored – there was a total of 9,469 jobs outstanding and by the end of June that figure had risen to 13,775. Of those who remained in June, 192 were classified as “urgent and urgent”.

A Freedom of Information Act request from the Local Democracy Information Service found that council had spent £ 1,129,218 in legal fees and damages to tackle a growing number of dilapidation claims between the start of fiscal year 2019 and August 15 of this year.

Councilor Sophie Thorton asked about the backlog of repairs at the plenary council meeting this month. In a written response to one of his questions, he said: “We have an excellent track record as a homeowner and have very rarely broken the Homes Act 2018.”

Earl Thorton said: “The Houses Act is a government law that requires houses to be ‘fit for human habitation’. It is inexcusable that the board violated this act even once.

As council funding has been cut to the bone, MacLoughlin worries things will only get worse.

“If we can’t safely and efficiently manage the building stock, I think someone has to ask the question: who can? ” he said.

“If we can’t provide this service, then we have to look at the future of our continued management of these apartments, because it can’t go on with apology after apology after apology. I’m sick of excuses. Apologies [don’t mean anything] if you don’t do anything about it.

“If this sort of thing can happen to someone like me with all my experience, my connections and my ability to question and question, only God knows what can happen to other tenants and residents without a voice. more vulnerable. “

Offering advice to other tenants, he said: “It is important that people don’t give up and that they keep proof of everything that is said between them and the officials who are supposed to serve their benefit.

Sheffield Council has been contacted for comment.

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