Tenants moved out of damp Thurrock tower blocks but misery for those left behind

Almost 30 tenants have been moved out of damp and mouldy tower blocks in Thurrock, but those who remain are enduring appalling conditions it has been revealed.

Long-suffering residents on the Blackshots estate are being relocated ahead of the demolition of three 11-storey tower blocks containing 168 homes and redevelopment of the site.

The remaining tenants are being supported but under fast deteriorating conditions, a councillor has revealed at a meeting of the housing overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday.

Following a report to update councillors on the scheme, Joycelyn Redsell, Conservative councillor for Little Thurrock Blackshots, praised the housing service for its progress but she said: “We are not engaging perhaps as well as we could be. We’ve got one young lady in there who’s got so much mould and she can’t even have the heating on.

“She’s got a little boy with a stoma bag who is nine and a little girl with asthma who can’t have a shower because she hasn’t got one. The heating is costing her £20 a day so she can’t use that either so the flat is just cold. Housing have been good. We’ve met with her but we can’t leave people like that. It’s so wrong.”

Cllr Redsell added: “It would be nice to have a meeting with each block in its turn. There’s questions they want to ask. People are getting worried now living on a floor with no one. They are just on their own so that’s a concern.”

Councillors heard a pre-application meeting has been held with planning officers and a draft business case is under way with officers “engaging HM Treasury to make a special case to allow the council to fund the borrowing of the new homes”. As the council has issued a s114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy it can’t currently borrow to start new capital programmes without permission.

James Halden, Conservative councillor for the Homesteads, raised concerns over achieving dispensation on borrowing. He said: “It takes serious effort to get something like this over the line. Reading the report, one could see how a treasury official could say you’ve made a success out of voiding these towers. We do not currently see the imperative of giving you the money to bring them down”

“Exploratory discussions are going on for the planning permission but until we get the dispensation we know nothing can go forward.”

Cllr Halden was told a number of officers were “working tirelessly on that process”.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter