Protest over sewage in flat

Protesters outside the town hall in Brixton

Members of the Acorn community organisation today (25 August) demonstrated outside Lambeth town hall in Brixton to demand action from the council over the plight of a member, Fehintola Anozie.

They said the leasehold council flat on the Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace where he lives with his mother has been flooded with sewage three times in the past 12 months.

Acorn said the council had failed to meet a deadline set in a previous letter asking for compensation.

Its Lambeth members visited the council last week to repeat their demand for replacement carpets and £3,200 compensation.

“We have lived on edge not knowing when the next time it’s going to happen,” Mr Anozie said. “My mother’s room was completely flooded with raw sewage.”

He said she had been on a sofa in the living room for the past three months.

“I have had to work in sewage, unable to breathe.

“My mother is 65 and has health issues. The stress of all of this has made things much worse.

“The council have treated us like second class citizens and have not taken this seriously. Every time it happens it takes about three to four days of constant calling to get them to do anything.”

Acorn members with banners chanted: “What do we want? Compensation.”

They demanded evidence that arrangements have been made to replace Mr. Anozie’s carpets and floors because of the damage caused by sewage.

The demand for compensation includes the cost of cleaning the carpet (£70), the cost of goods damaged (£250), service charge for the 10 months during which the flooding took place (£1,500), and compensation for stress, time and obstructions to daily life (£1,380).

Acorn said flat, of which Mr Anozie’s mother is the leaseholder, was flooded with sewage on 27 October last year, and on 4 June and 5 July this year, and that the council did not investigate the root cause until after the 5 July incident.

ACORN Lambeth said the council had failed to meet its responsibilities to leaseholders in this instance, and had contravened the Environmental Protection Act (1990).

An ACORN Lambeth spokesperson said: “Our members deserve to live in decent, safe, and clean housing, and be compensated when this is not the case.

“We have delivered our demands to Lambeth council twice and they have not responded. We will stand with our member until he gets what he deserves.”

A Lambeth council spokesperson said: “We tackled the problem at this flat, and the wider problems with the drains at the estate, as a matter of urgency.

“Our contractors have cleared a number of drains, including a blocked drain at the side of the property, and restored the full flow to this flat.

“The repair was a complex one but took longer than we had hoped to resolve.

“We have apologised for this problem and the distress it caused to this family in the meantime.

“These residents are of course entitled to apply for compensation, and any claim will be treated on its merits.”