sewage goes to committee

Monday 3 June 2024

Resident Councillor Ceri Wilkins highlights the ongoing issues of sewage leaks under Crescent House – that this is clearly a maintenance issue and communications with residents were slow and wrongly imply that residents were responsible.

Watch from 1:13:25


START 1:13:25

Cllr Ceri Wilkins: Apologies for not being able to notify anyone in advance but it’s in relation to something that’s happened on the Estate yesterday following up from an issue the weekend prior. We’ve got an issue with block drains on the Golden Lane Estate.

Peta, apologies because I know you’ve obviously only just started and so Pam, who was obviously your interim, had to come out urgently a week ago on Sunday onto Golden Lane and pay a small fortune for Pimlico Plumbers to come out …. we were made aware that the estate office actually knew on Tuesday of this issue but nothing had been done.

It was then a bank holiday weekend it took me having to email the Director and Deputy of CCS for then anything to be done unfortunately and the estate was then kept awake for the whole of Sunday evening while this was dealt with.

We then got a letter out to everyone who lives on the estate on Friday despite me asking one to be sent out on Tuesday just to explain what the situation was essentially blaming residents saying, it’s because they’ve been using wet wipes to flush down the toilets and that’s what’s caused the blockage. However unfortunately despite the small fortune being paid last weekend the drains are now blocked again so obviously isn’t a wet wipe issue.

This is obviously a maintenance issue so I just want to ask basically what has been done, what is going to be done and how we can ensure that actually the correct maintenance is done to the drainage on our estate – something that I’m aware that other members have followed up previously for years to ensure that there’s something actually done and now we’ve got a point where actually yesterday there was raw sewage flowing again in the car park the smell was horrendous.

The pub has also suffered and a number of members of their staff unfortunately have fallen very ill because of this issue and it’s because of a problem with the drainage on our estate not from the pub itself so I just want to find out what’s going to be done and how we can stop this from happening again and of course to stop blaming residents because it’s the fact that it’s happened two weekends a row it obviously isn’t a wet wipe issue thank you.

Peta Caine: Thanks okay, I will obviously directly after this meeting take a look at that. I had a handover from the head of Maintenance and repairs on Friday who’s given me an indication that there was some maintenance regime in place… I think the wet wipes are a bit of a red herring – I think it was about the strength put behind the wording perhaps, but it was found to be a contributory factor but not the only factor. I did an email on Friday afternoon saying that I would look into it on that basis it’s obviously dreadful if this happened again over the weekend so if you could leave that with me there are obviously lessons to be learned here and we need to take that forward as part of our planned Works moving forward as the as a whole of the

housing of the city of London but work obviously needs to be done there thank you.

Cllr Ceri Wilkins: Can I also just ask can we check where we are today perhaps because it it’s unfortunate Judith, who I think is online and is obviously not here, but she responded to the Chair of GLERA who raised this issue yesterday – the fact that there’s raw sew leaking again and as far as we’re aware nothing was going to be done until today so that’s another day of raw sewage floating around … We have a lot of young people who play on our estate and obviously they have no idea that could be a huge danger to them, the fact that members of staff of the pub have fallen very ill because of this issue. Other residents may have also done unfortunately. If you’re right I’m sure the wet wipes are a contributing factor but they’re not the reason for the blockage and for the pumps failing so it’s unfair that residents have then been essentially blamed for this problem.

I just want to make sure that something’s now actually being done and that we can stop this from happening again because it shouldn’t take members having to step in for something to be done and this does seem to sort of repeatedly happen which is obviously frustrating

Judith Finlay: Thank you Ceri..  just to confirm what Peta said that she she’ll undertake further review. Pam Wharfe undertook an initial review and shared that with members. Our plumbing contractor confirmed it was wet wipes but obviously it is a more nuanced response than that. We’ll look further at the issues that were flagged over the weekend. Thankfully residents reported that to the repairs line so Wates will be picking it up and Peta can pick it up further. It’s unfortunate that our interim Head of Repairs and Maintenance left on Friday so we’ve got a slight skills gap at the moment so we will pick it up thank you.

Cllr John Fletcher: Judith if we’re going to be a responsible local Authority shouldn’t we be reaching out to the pub as well?

Cllr Ceri Wilkins: They have not been contacted at all apparently when I spoke to them at the weekend which is unfortunate.

Judith Finlay (Executive Director of Children and Community Services): Yes we will be we will be contacting them directly particularly given this suggestion that they might have incurred ill health as a consequence. We’ll talk to our environmental health colleagues about that thank you.

Cllr Mary Durkan:  Can I ask what’s the state of our regular maintenance on drains thank you? [Chairman: not very good I’d say Mary]  Do we have a regular maintenance or is is it just a reaction to problems?

Peta Caine (Assistant Director of Social Housing): if you can leave that with me I can get the details. I was told that we had a program – I don’t know if that’s for everywhere.

Cllr Helen Fentimen (Deputy Chair): I think members know that there are fundamental problems with our regular maintenance program and it’s been one of the things that we’ve talked about here and it’s one of the things that we’ve tried to insist is improved and I know that it’s on Judith’s agenda. It’s been you know a substantial issue on the Barbican Estate as well as on all of our other Estates. I think that I will just kind of make a bit of a plea – it’s Peta’s I don’t know fourth or fifth day in post. We know the problems are there, I know that Peta has had that reported to her, I think we just need to give her a little bit of time to get on top of it and clearly the specific on Golden Lane that is urgent, that has to be dealt with today and I’m quite sure that that Peta and Judith are absolutely on the case .I mean I know why you asked the question Mary but we do all know the problems.

Cllr Ceri Wilkins: Can I just make one final point just in relation to something that John was saying earlier about estate staff. I think actually if we had an estate manager that we had had previously perhaps on Golden Lane this may not have dragged on to the point where it was first reported on a Tuesday come Sunday it took me having to contact the director of CCS for anything to then be done which is very unfortunate. And I’ve going to apologise to Liam because I know we have discussed this separately so it’s not as if it’s um the first time it’s been raised.

(auto-generated transcript provided by YouTube with minor corrections and tidying up)