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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Concerns have been raised by residents about living conditions in Grand Heights

Children rushed to hospital at Slough after moving back into house in Grand Heights

A baby and toddler were rushed to hospital after a flat was sprayed for bedbugs, in a Slough tower block used to house people from two London boroughs.

The children were rushed to hospital after becoming ‘seriously unwell’ the day after they moved back into their flat at The Grand Heights on Hatfield Road following bedbug treatment.

The London Borough of Redbridge – the east London council that housed the family there – says it has been told that the illness was not linked to the bedbug treatment. But the incident has raised concerns among other families living at Grand Heights away from their London homes.

Janelle Clarke. Image:: Janelle Clarke

Janelle Clarke, mother of two other children housed at Grand Heights by Redbridge, said nobody from the east London council had been to visit following the incident.

She told the LDRS: “Redbridge Council has not even come. We haven’t seen anybody. The police came and checked on us to make sure that we are okay. But no one else came to reassure us that the place is safe.”

Janelle Clarke says she believes as many as 600 people have been housed in Grand Heights temporarily by Redbridge and another east London borough council Tower Hamlets.

The two councils are responsible for housing those residents as part of their duty to prevent eligible people in their boroughs becoming homeless. London Borough of Redbridge says that a ‘severe housing crisis’ means its had to find people places to live outside the capital.

Grand Heights windows. Image: Janelle Clarke

But Janelle said she’s worried that Grand Heights is unsuitable for her family and others’. She says rooms are small and poorly ventilated – and far away from her children’s school still in north west London.

She said: “The rooms are small and the window space is limited so there’s not enough ventilation – I have been saying this for months.

Grand Heights bedroom. Image: Janelle Clarke

“We have 600 tenants here from Redbridge and Tower Hamlets. We have mothers with children with special educational needs and survivors of domestic abuse. We’ve had no housing officer come to see us – they’ve just dumped us here.”

A spokesperson for the London Borough of Redbridge told the LDRS the housing crisis had ‘forced us to rely on temporary accommodation, much of which is outside London’. But added the authority is reviewing whether Grand Heights is suitable for Janelle.

The spokesperson said: “We fully sympathise with Ms Clarke and her living situation.  We are currently conducting a review of Ms Clarke’s accommodation in Slough.”

Grand Heights’ building manager said management and the pest control company had been cleared of any wrongdoing over the child’s illness. The government’s Health and Safety Executive told the LDRS it is aware of the incident and is making enquiries.

A spokesperson for Slough Borough Council said it is aware of concerns at Grand Heights but added: “As a council we don’t use that building for accommodation. Individuals placed there by other councils should raise any issues with them, as their housing provider.”

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said: “Tower Hamlets, like the rest of London, is facing a housing crisis. There is a chronic shortage of suitable and affordable homes in the borough for families who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Our neighbouring boroughs are faced with the same situation and so we have little choice but to place families further afield.

“Before we procured Grand Heights for temporary accommodation we made several visits to the building and the local area and have deemed it suitable to meet our housing duty.

“We were not aware of a pest issue in the building and made enquiries with the landlord as soon as we found out about the incident. No resident placed by Tower Hamlets was affected, but we are in the process of visiting all our residents to check they are ok.”

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