Young mum says her and her daughter have been “neglected” by Westminster council after being housed in cold and dirty temporary flats

By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter

A young mum and her five-year-old daughter say they have been “neglected” by Westminster council after being put in cold, dark and dirty temporary flats.

On Sunday the two were moved to a temporary flat in the Maida Hill area, but arrived to find there was no electricity or heating.

Shannon Aldridge, 22, pictured above, said they were moved into the property having previously been put in a bedsit in Finsbury Park that had “thick dirt” in its bathroom and kitchen.

Ms Aldridge, who works as a school dinner lady and grew up in Ashmore Road, said: “We arrived on Sunday and there was no electricity so I couldn’t even put the heating on.

“The new one is two bedrooms, but my daughter has been here in the dark for so long that now she’s still scared. We tried to keep warm by wearing jackets and dressing gowns.

“I had to use the torch on my phone, and when the battery ran out I could only recharge my phone at work.

“And I’ve been told the communal area is a fire hazard because it’s full of crap.”

She said the council arranged with the landlord, Notting Hill Genesis housing association (NHG), to get the electricity fixed on November 4.

A council spokesman said: “The power has now been restored but we understand how inconvenient this must have been and apologise for the distress it caused.”

NHG said the fault was due to an energy meter that “had stopped working between their viewing date and when they moved in”.

In June Ms Aldridge was placed in an emergency accommodation flat in Finsbury Park, a “one room” bedsit.

“I went to the place in Finsbury Park after I was made homeless,” she said.

“The place was filthy and disgusting.

“I had one bed that I shared with my daughter. There was thick black mud and dirt in the kitchen and the bathroom. It was so dirty. They didn’t tell me anything about the flat before they moved me in.

“I was there for five months and no one came to do anything about it.”

Ms Aldridge has long been trying to bid for one of the council’s limited number of permanent council flats.

On November 3 she looked online and saw the “perfect property” in Maida Hill, but inexplicably she was blocked from bidding.

“They suspended my account and I don’t know why.”

She also accused the council of mistakenly calling her ex-partner’s phone on July 3 and leaving a voicemail, which disclosed that she was having financial problems.

“The council passed private information to my ex-boyfriend telling him about financial problems I’ve been having. They called him by mistake when they meant to call me,” she said.

The Westminster Council spokesman said: “The council is committed to providing suitable housing for those most in need, and we take any complaints we receive from residents extremely seriously.

“In this case, the resident had recently moved into temporary accommodation provided by the council.

“However it quickly became apparent that the flat had a faulty electricity metre – an issue which we were previously unaware of.

“The power has now been restored but we understand how inconvenient this must have been and apologise for the distress it caused.

“We are concerned to learn of the other complaints raised by the resident and have arranged an inspection to address any further problems.”

An NHG spokesperson said: “An emergency request was made to the energy company and the repair was completed on Wednesday. The whole process took less than 24 hours from when it was first reported to us.

“We will contact the tenant regularly over the coming week to ensure there are no further issues.”


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