Leytonstone tower block residents in uproar over loss of parking spaces for up to three years during refurbishment

Car-owners living in two tower blocks are furious at council plans to reallocate their car park to builders doing refurbishment work.

The car park at Fred Wigg and John Walsh Towers in Montague Road, Leytonstone, will be given over to contractors carrying out major heating, water and fire safety work on the buildings.

Residents, who have been asked to move their cars by Wednesday, August 5, are frustrated that Waltham Forest Council has yet to find them an alternative place to park before the end of September.

They understand, although this has not been confirmed to the YA, that the parking lot will be unusable for the next three years.

Helena Asimeng, a 57-year-old who has lived in the blocks since 1995, said she and other residents felt left in a “deep lurch”.

She said: “We have absolutely nowhere to take our cars. Waltham Forest should really try to put themselves in our shoes, we are not asking for anything out of the ordinary.

“I use my car for everything because I have got a slight health issue. For shopping, for going to church and, when I’m working, I drive to work.

“There’s a stigma that, if you are in social housing, you can be treated anyhow. We pay rent, we are secure tenants who have been here for many years. I don’t know whether that counts for anything, it looks like it does not.”

A total of 81 car parking spaces will be lost while contractors install a heating and water system, a new fire alarm system, sprinklers for every flat and other external works.

Residents say controlled parking zones in the surrounding areas limit where they could park, with any available spaces likely to fill up quickly.

Sonia McKenzie, chairman of the Fred Wigg & John Walsh Tenants & Residents Association, said the council seemed to be “frightened” of the contractors.

She said: “The council had over a year to sort this out and they have not done so. They have not had meetings with the residents to explain what’s going on or let them ask questions.

“The contractor’s convenience is being put before the people’s convenience. They’re trampling all over our lives because they think we are a soft target without the thousands of pounds needed to ensure our rights are respected.”

Cllr Louise Mitchell, responsible for housing and homelessness prevention, said the council hoped to be able to offer an alternative space from the end of September but that “vitally important” work on the towers could not be delayed.

She said: “The council has reviewed a number of alternative parking options to enable the full range of works required to be completed; unfortunately, none of these have yet proved viable. We have been in contact with resident representatives throughout this process.

“We are hoping to use a nearby area for vehicles that have registered owners living in the towers from the end of September, depending on the outcome of formal consultation with these residents.”

Residents protest the council\’s decision

Mick Ferris

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