Housing associations failing too many Bromley residents, says town hall

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy service

Bromley residents have been forced to “walk on water” instead of their carpet, as councillors say housing associations are letting residents down.

At a Bromley council meeting on Monday, councillor Kathy Bance said she knew residents who had been held “in limbo” for years with housing associations working in the borough.

She said that on one occasion, she filmed a resident “walking on water instead of their bedsit carpet”.

Cllr Bance said: “Another family with three children moved out after I photographed the appalling conditions their home was left in after electrical works had been done when the neighbour above them’s flat flooded theirs.”

The news came from a motion put forward by Cllr Tony McPartlan, proposing the council start a public forum with associations to voice the concerns of residents, as well as improving communication between the bodies and the council.

But the idea was rejected in a vote.

Council leader Colin Smith said he could understand the desire to call out the associations in public and give them a “good bashing”, but said meeting with representatives of such groups would be more beneficial than a forum.

He said: “[With] calling people out, there’s a place for it. I’m personally not convinced this is it and tactically we can get where we want to go easier and faster by just being a little bit more diplomatic and tactical.”

Cllr Bance said housing associations were “failing too many residents” in Bromley and were not being held accountable. She also said she saw no “proactive or reactive” input from the council’s housing representative on the issue, with some residents living in “appalling” conditions.

Cllr Tony McPartlan said that nearly 20,000 people in Bromley live in housing association properties and that the motion provided a “way forward” to work with housing associations on the conditions of homes.

Mindful of the well publicised death of Awaab Ishak, a two-year-old who died of exposure to mould in his house in Rochdale in 2020, the Labour councillor said: “Nobody in this chamber wants something similar to happen to anyone in Bromley.”

Councillor Yvonne Bear, portfolio holder for housing, said: “Bromley Council has always taken the quality of social housing extremely seriously. We have not waited for a tragedy to occur before taking action.”

But speaking against the motion, Cllr Bear said it would not be appropriate for housing associations to speak about individual cases at a public forum. The councillor said residents should raise housing issues with the council to be fixed and not “suffer in silence”.

Pictured top: Bromley Civic Centre (Picture: Google Street View)

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