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South Acton residents call on Met Police and Ealing Council to help them as they fear for their own safety in “dangerous” shipping container development

Residents living in a 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 are calling on the council and police to take action following constant anti-social behaviour going on. 

They say living in Meath Court at Hope Gardens in South Acton is dangerous and unsafe and is impacting their lives with constant drug dealing and drug taking going on as well as other forms of anti-social behaviour happening. Earlier this month, residents said Ealing Council is acting like “a rogue landlord”.

In 2019, current leader of Ealing Council, Councillor Peter Mason welcomed the arrival of shipping containers converted into “innovative emergency accommodation” in Ealing as providing a “stable, comfortable environment to house people”.

But over the past six years since they first appeared in the borough, those living in them say it is “shipping container hell” and the development is “dangerous”.

Residents living 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 broken or pieces falling off it.

They also say there is little police or security being there and no CCTV to record what is going on.

Meath Court consists of 60 units of which 8 are studio units, 20 are 1 bedroom units and 32 are 2 bedroom units. Across all 60 units, the development was built for 288 people to live there.

The grounds at Meath Court are poorly maintained, the handrail areas to walk up and down floors have sharp jagged edges and metal areas on the stairwell are rusty or have fallen off.

The entry system to gain entry doesn’t always work as the gate doesn’t fully securely close and has allowed people not living there to keep the gate open.

Inside the homes residents have complained about hobs for cooking on don’t work and smoke alarms in rooms either don’t have test buttons or haven’t been checked by the council to check they are working.

Residents say they are being ignored by the council and both their mental health and physical health is suffering as a result of the conditions they live in.

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.”

Councillor Julian Gallant, leader of Ealing Conservatives told EALING.NEWS of his concerns. He said: “Ealing Council is placing vulnerable residents, including single mothers with children, in accommodation that was only ever to have been temporary.

“Residents of Meath Court in South Acton are often denied basic amenities like hot water and proper drainage. And that’s before you look at the poor security; electronically locked gates are not properly maintained leading to access by drug dealers and other miscreants. Ealing Council needs to stop treating its most vulnerable residents as “them” and start treating them like “us”.

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Neil Reynolds chair of Ealing Green Party said earlier this month: “This is yet another example of appalling conditions that are the responsibility of Ealing council. The inaction that must have led to the properties falling into this state is unacceptable.”

Mr Reynolds added: “The council should listen to residents now and tackle some of the basic maintenance and safety issues.”

The cost for a two bedroom home is £370.55 one resident revealed on X (formerly Twitter). The resident also revealed that non-residents come into the development and use it for illicit purposes.  The laundry room at the development has been taken over by people who have used it to sleep in.

Justicefor_meathcourt_w3 @MeathcourtW3 posted of their concerns and the impact it has on their lives: “drug users (crackheads) take over our laundry room to smoke drugs, have sex, charge their phones, eat food, vandalise property, STEAL clothing from washing machines, drink the water from the sink, and enjoy FREE complimentary heating.”

A Met Police spokesperson told EALING.NEWS: “In a concerted effort to ensure the safety and well-being of local residents of Meath Court, Ealing, W3, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), have been working in partnership with London Borough of Ealing Council, and the local community, to address recent crime and security concerns in the area.

“Over the past few months, we are disappointed to see that the Meath Estate has experienced an unfortunate increase in criminal activity and anti-social behaviour (ASB), which we acknowledge. Ealing Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams have stepped up its presence in the area, with daily patrols by uniform officers and PCSO’s, providing a visible and reassuring presence for the local residents.

“We encourage residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police, by calling either 999 in an emergency, or 101 if not urgent, or via the MPS website.”

But residents say despite despite the daily patrols, not enough is being done. One resident told EALING.NEWS: “I’ve never seen them and I don’t know of any resident who has. And if they are doing daily patrols, why don’t they knock on our doors and speak to us? We don’t feel safe or reassured by the police or Ealing Council. We are just being ignored and we are suffering being here.”

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, an Ealing Council spokesperson previously said of resident concerns about Meath Court: “We are sorry to hear about residents’ experiences and are concerned about the quality of accommodation at Meath Court.

“We are seeking to deliver additional high-quality temporary accommodation solutions as fast as possible, but like most other London boroughs we have a chronic shortage of housing and we are facing a temporary accommodation emergency, with the market for temporary accommodation in London being completely broken.

“The council has also seen an increase in the number of households who are in urgent need of support with their housing, thanks to the cost-of-living crisis. In the last year, we have seen an increase of over 50% in the number of households needing emergency B&B accommodation – that’s an additional 100 households . While we always seek to support residents in need to the best of our ability, the council is not able to keep up with the demand for emergency accommodation and is now under extreme pressure.

“We strongly urge residents experiencing anti-social behaviour and problems with their homes to contact the council through the hostel officer directly, or by using the ‘report it’ telephone lines or digital forms. That means that we can rectify the issue as soon as possible. In the case of an emergency always call 999.”

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