Broken lifts and drug dealers plaguing Lewisham estate

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy

Estate residents are still without fully functioning lifts 12 months after a council promised to replace them.

Lewisham council said it was fitting new lifts at Milford Towers in Catford last February in a bid to “reduce maintenance issues,” which cause the lifts to frequently stop working.

But one year on, residents of the estate, which is located minutes from the council’s headquarters in Catford Road, said not a single one of the apartment complex’s six lifts was working properly. 

And an entrance door with an electronic lock which was broken when reporters visited the estate 12 months ago was still not working when they revisited last week.

Residents said the estate was plagued by drug addicts who sneak in through the broken entrance and take drugs in the building’s many stairwells. 

Milford Towers in Catford (Picture: Robert Firth)

They added that the lack of security had made the building a magnet for opportunist thieves. 

Mum Asheka Rowe, 31, said her son was scared to use the stairs because of the lack of lighting in the building’s stairwells. 

She said: “He calls me so that I can be with him to come up the stairs. There’s no lighting. Anybody can come through the entrance. We have the drug addicts on the stairs doing their thing.

“The only thing we ask for is to live in a safe place. That’s what we pay our rent for.”

Celso Neto, 44, said: “I have felt very unsafe. Last week there were three people in the lifts using drugs.

“If you were a lady or kid it could have been very scary. Sometimes I avoid taking the lift. The first thing to do is to protect the doors.” 

Mum-of-two Ysabel Guerola, 34, added: “I’ve been here seven years and the lifts have always been a problem. They break every week and they break when it rains.”

About 30 residents from Milford Towers held a demonstration outside Lewisham council’s headquarters in Catford on Wednesday afternoon last week.

London Renters Union (LRU), which organised the protest, is demanding that the council deals with repair issues on the estate and brings homes at Milford Towers that are outsourced to housing association Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) back under council control. 

A Lewisham council spokesman said: “We recognise that the management of the estate has not been up to the standards we expect.

“The council is carrying out extensive improvements works across the estate, investing over £14m to support this work.

“This includes refurbishing and replacing faulty lifts, repairing roofs, installing new double-glazed windows, cleaning and redecorating communal areas and replacing security doors. We have also recently put in security patrols on the estate to deter antisocial behaviour.”

A Notting Hill Genesis spokeswoman said: “We lease 197 homes from Lewisham council, which are then made available to private renters, under assured short-hold tenancies. 

“We are only responsible for repairs within individual flats and not for lifts, communal areas or external doors and to ensure we carry out our responsibility as best we can, we have put in place a dedicated on-site repairs service for residents to use so internal repairs can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.”

Pictured top: Residents from Milford Towers protesting outside Lewisham council’s offices in Catford on January 31 (Pictured top: London Renters Union)

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