Man who suffered stroke after kitchen refit disaster waits two years for council repairs

A former photographer said his house has been “wrecked” by council contractors who fitted a new kitchen and bathroom in January, after nearly three years of delays.

Chris Montgomery, 60, of Dennetts Road, New Cross, was told by Lewisham council in 2021 that contracted workers would install a new kitchen into his house.

He said: “It was years back and forth – every time a date was set they didn’t show.

“I had to cancel holidays with my children so I would be in the house for the work to start and then no one turned up.”

Chris Montgomery (Picture: Chris Montgomery)

Mr Montgomery said he sent the council his medical records to explain the stress the delays had caused him but did not receive an apology.

In 2019, while living in a different council flat in Dennetts Road, Mr Montgomery suffered a stroke which he said was brought on by the stress of waiting 18 months for workers contracted by Lewisham council to finish repairs on his kitchen.

He said: “The workers the council hired completely trashed my old flat. I was lucky to survive the stroke. I couldn’t let that happen again.”

In August 2023, the council set a final date to start works that September. 

Mr Montgomery gutted his kitchen to prepare for the works which did not start for another four months (Picture: Chris Montgomery)

Mr Montgomery said: “I completely gutted my kitchen to make it easier for them and so none of my things would get ruined.

“Then they didn’t show and they kept delaying it until March. I spent six months and Christmas with no kitchen.”

In March, the contractors arrived and undertook 10 days of work to refit the new kitchen and bathroom to the house.

But, Mr Montgomery said the workers left the flat in an “appalling state”, with plastered-over sockets and poor paint work.

Mr Montgomery moved everything from his kitchen into his garden shed to prepare for the refit (Picture: Chris Montgomery)

Despite a series of complaints, Mr Montgomery said Lewisham council has not organised any future plans to repair the two rooms.

The former photographer who has worked at Buckingham Palace, the English National Ballet and the Royal Albert Hall said his mental health has suffered because of the delays.

He said: “I had to give up my job as a photographer after the stroke. And now this has all happened again.

“I feel abused, disrespected and ignored.”

Video shows Mr Montgomery’s bathroom after the council contracted workers finished 10 days of work (Picture: Chris Montgomery)

Last week, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) announced that Lewisham council had failed to meet its consumer standards.

Following a self-referral, RSH investigated the council and found nearly half of all repairs had not been completed on time between April and December 2023. The social housing regulator also found more than 2,000 Lewisham council homes do not meet the Decent Homes Standard. 

Following RSH’s investigation, the council has put an action plan in place to address these issues.

A Lewisham council spokesman said: “We are in the process of investigating what has gone wrong in this case. Our external contracts are robust and we hold our external contractors to high standards.”

Pictured top: Image shows Mr Montgomery’s kitchen after he gutted it in September to prepare for work to begin, Chris Montgomery (Picture: Chris Montgomery)

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