Ealing Liberal Democrats are calling on Labour-run Ealing Council to “decommission” South Acton’s Meath Court as a priority following a visit last week in which its councillors met with residents who fear for their lives.
The opposition party to ruling Ealing Labour is calling on the council to move the residents to safe accommodation. Ealing LibDem leader said: “I challenge Labour’s Peter Mason, Leader of Ealing Council, to come and meet residents, hear their experiences which will shock him and take action straight away.”
Following a report last month in EALING.NEWS, residents living in the shipping container development which was hailed in 2017 by Ealing Council as a solution to help people who found themselves homeless and provide a better alternative to bed and breakfast have been calling on the council and police to take action following constant anti-social behaviour going on.
This follows ongoing issues residents at another shipping container development, Marston Court in Hanwell raised in July. Like Meath Court, residents living in Martson Court revealed faults with the homes they live in as well as anti-social behaviour going on for years.
The three Liberal Democrat Councillors Gary Malcolm, Jon Ball and Gary Busuttil met with vulnerable residents and heard from them about their concerns and worries.
Residents in Meath Court ,which opened in December 2017, say they have been plagued with constant anti-social behaviour going on, drug dealing and drug taking place in public, lights flickering on and off and the accommodation and areas around it are broken or pieces falling off it.
Inside the accommodation, fire alarms and fire doors are missing or damaged and not fixed.
Meath Court was originally built as temporary accommodation on a site that would be then developed as a park but many say they have been trapped there for years with no hope of ever leaving.
One resident told EALING.NEWS: “There’s anti-social behaviour including drug dealing and people urinating in public areas daily. It really is not safe with what is going on. People come into the development as the entry system is not always working or they climb the over the rails to gain entry. There’s no CCTV here. Our front doors don’t even have a spy hole to see who is knocking.”
They added: “Like many others here, I have young children and it’s not safe to let them play outdoors. That’s why you can see children playing on the landings. We tell the council this but are just ignored. This is something you would expect to see from a rogue landlord. Ealing Council is acting like a rogue landlord in how they treat us. We are living in shipping container hell.”
Another resident added: “Where are the police and where is the security to keep us safe? It is dangerous to live here with what is going on. There is now someone in the managers office at night who is supposed to keep an eye on things but the entry gates to Meath Court are open and we don’t see any reduction in the anti-social behaviour going on. It is frightening living here.”
The Liberal Democrats have said they want Ealing Council to take urgent action to make repairs as well as improving security overall until Meath Court can be decommissioned.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball, Opposition Spokesperson on Planning and Housing said: “When Meath Court was built in 2017 to house almost 300 people in emergency accommodation of converted shipping containers it was located in Hope Gardens and signalled a new approach. Now five years later it seems that the hope of a new dawn for emergency accommodation has collapsed into a lawless Wild West, acting as a magnet for antisocial behaviour, violence, drug issues amongst other issues which now needs to be decommissioned.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Busuttil, Deputy Leader added: “The experiment of Meath Court has failed and shows how poorly the Labour administration have managed the provision for some of the most needy and vulnerable residents – residents have been betrayed and the community in Acton has been abandoned to suffer the consequences. We heard about an attempted murder and an attempted rape on site. It is totally shameful.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition said: “Liberal Democrats came here to listen to residents and have been shocked by the horrific stories we heard. I challenge Labour’s Peter Mason, Leader of Ealing Council, to come and meet residents, hear their experiences which will shock him and take action straight away. Labour are burying their head in the sand and not engaging with residents and families. Enough is enough. Peter Mason needs to sort out these problems.”
In a statement to EALING.NEWS, Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for safe and genuinely affordable homes said the council will be taking action for both Meath Court and Marston Court in Hanwell: “I met with residents of both Meath and Marston Courts recently, and have seen first-hand the challenges many of them are facing.
“We’re absolutely committed to ensuring families in Ealing have safe, secure and genuinely affordable homes to live in.
“That’s why we’ve recognised that the accommodation at Meath and Marston Courts is not good enough, and committed to move all of the families into alternative temporary accommodation in the coming months. In the meantime, we will continue to work with them to tackle the issues with anti-social behaviour at both sites, most of which is carried out by non-residents.
“We have already installed private security on site and are reviewing if this needs to be increased to ensure perpetrators are dealt with effectively.”