Arnold Estate residents face ten-year wait for new kitchens and bathrooms

Residents on the Arnold Estate in Bermondsey face a wait of up to ten years for new kitchens and bathrooms after the Council rejected tenants’ pleas at a recent meeting of the council.

Local Liberal Democrat councillors raised the plight of residents who, despite some waiting almost thirty years already for a new kitchen and bathroom, have now been told they could be among the last in the whole borough to get them.

The Council published its housing major works programme in October.  This included kitchen and bathroom replacements.  This followed the pledge by Southwark Labour in its election manifesto last year to ‘deliver a quality kitchen and bathroom for every council tenant’.  The Council also promised in June that homes having major works this year under the Warm, Dry and Safe programme would get new kitchens and bathrooms by April 2016.

Warm, Dry and Safe works are currently underway on the Arnold Estate, yet the Council has refused to carry out kitchen and bathroom works as well.  Despite personal promises from leading Labour councillors that Arnold tenants would have them this year, the estate is not scheduled for works until the final stage of the programme – in 8-10 years’ time – according to the draft major works strategy.

Residents came to the council meeting last week to urge the Council to change its mind but their pleas fell on deaf ears.  All the Labour councillors voted to reject a Liberal Democrat motion to carry the kitchen and bathroom works out now.

Brefne Jowers, a resident from the Arnold Estate, told councillors at the meeting:

“Some of the other estates with works planned sooner than the Arnold have had extensive refurbishment recently, such as the Vauban and Neckinger.  The Dickens Estate is in the Year 1 list too even though they have just had works done.

“People feel the Arnold has been badly neglected for a very long time. We are about to start major works that fall short of making much in the way of visible improvements.  Although scaffolding is to be erected to the front of all blocks in order to replace asphalt walkways, we are not getting railings or facades painted. These have not been painted since 1997 and paint is flaking off down to the metal. Since the scaffolding is the major cost for these works, doesn’t it make sense for the council to use the opportunity to do other work that requires scaffolding at the same time?”

Riverside Liberal Democrat councillor, Hamish McCallum, who moved the motion at the council assembly meeting, said:

“The residents on the Arnold Estate have been treated really badly by the Labour council. 

“They were twice promised new kitchens and bathrooms by Cabinet Members and other homes with major works this year are getting them.  But instead the Arnold Estate has been sent to the back of the queue and faces a wait of up to ten more years.

“Some of the kitchens and bathrooms are in a terrible state and haven’t been replaced for up to forty years.  But Labour would not listen to residents or the local councillors calling on them to deliver their election promise of a quality kitchen and bathroom for all.

“Liberal Democrats are fighting residents’ corner and will continue to call on the Council to honour its pledge.  It’s time to give the Arnold tenants their new kitchens and bathroom now, not in ten years’ time.”