Just under half of the homes in two Ealing Council housing developments dubbed “shipping container hell” have been vacated despite the council telling residents living in South Acton’s Meath Court and Hanwell’s Marston Court they would be moved to other accommodation “over the next few months”
In a statement to EALING.NEWS, Labour-run Ealing Council has revealed that out of the 60 homes at Meath Court only 27 are vacant while at Marston Court which has 34 homes only 16 are vacant.
In November 2023, the council said all residents would be moved out “over the next few months” but many are still living in their “shipping container hell” homes and fearing it will drag on for longer.
In December 2023, Ealing Liberal Democrats called on Ealing Council to launch a full investigation into its management of the shipping container developments and how they were allowed to get into the poor state they have been in for years and how residents were treated.
Lib Dem Councillor Jon Ball said: “There must be a full investigation on the unsafe conditions and the alleged malpractices from Ealing Council that residents have to endure.”
Back in 2019, two years after shipping containers were being used and residents were raising concerns about them, current council leader, Councillor Peter Mason welcomed the arrival of shipping containers converted into “innovative emergency accommodation” in Ealing as said it provides a “stable, comfortable environment to house people”.
But for those living for years in shipping containers across the borough, they feel they have been let down by the council and its leader.
They are calling for a full investigation into what happened and say shipping container developments were not “stable” or “comfortable” as Councillor Mason claimed and instead of being temporary as promised, many have lived in them for years.
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, an Ealing Council spokesperson said: “When these homes were brought into use, they were an attempt by the council to seek innovative solutions to provide additional temporary accommodation for some of the most vulnerable residents in the borough during a housing crisis which is only deepening with every passing year. The council has now taken the decision to decommission them. There are no other modular home schemes using shipping containers currently planned for the borough.”
Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of Ealing Liberal Democrats told EALING.NEWS that residents living at the shipping container developments have also found communications from the council not arriving. He said: “Letters have been sent but because communal letter boxes are broken many residents are not seeing information from the council as the post is taken. Many residents have told me that they are very concerned about this and not being kept informed on what is happening.”
Residents still living in Meath Court at Hope Gardens in South Acton it has been what they have called a nightmare living there. They say it is dangerous and unsafe and has impacted their lives over the years with constant drug dealing and drug taking going on as well as other forms of anti-social behaviour happening. Residents said Ealing Council is acting like “a rogue landlord” in they way they have been treated.
At Marston Court in Hanwell residents had three years of no security at the entrance. The entry system was broken in early 2020 and was only fixed late summer in 2023.
Residents said the rooms they lived in were hot in the summer and cold during the winter and there were also many instances of blockages and bug infestations occurring.
One resident told EALING.NEWS in July 2023: “They talk about private landlords being rogue landlords, Ealing Council is just as bad. I’ve been here since they opened and it gets worse and worse. Basics don’t work. There’s cockroaches in my room.”
An Ealing Council spokesperson added: “We will continue to work with existing residents to help and support them with housing advice and options, until both sites are empty. Once empty, the sites will be secured. We will ensure that the homes are handed back to the supplier in accordance with the lease agreement, and the accommodation supplier will then arrange for the structure to be moved off the site. There are 27 units currently vacant in Meath Court and 16 vacant at Marston Court.”
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, chair of Ealing Green Party Neil Reynolds said: “The fact that residents have had to endure a winter in accommodation that is plainly unsafe is bad enough. The remaining residents must be the council’s top priority. The management of this situation just isn’t urgent or good enough.”
Ealing Liberal Democrats along with residents of the homes are continuing with their call for Ealing Council to fully investigate how they were allowed to be put into the accommodation which they say has impacted their lives.
At an Extraordinary Council Meeting (ECM) at the end of December 2023, Ealing Liberal Democrats Councillor Jon Ball raised his concerns and said “there must be an urgent investigation into the management of these schemes and how they were allowed to get into this disgraceful state.”
Councillor Malcolm, leader of Ealing Liberal Democrats told EALING.NEWS he is calling on Ealing Council to launch an investigation into what happened at Acton’s Meath Court and Hanwell’s Marston Court. He said: “Once again, we are calling on the council to launch a full investigation into what has happened with these developments and how it was allowed to get like it has and the impact it has caused on residents.”