Queensway House fire safety and improvement works continue

Queensway House.

Queensway House. - Credit: Archant

Residents are maintaining pressure on the council to upgrade Hatfield’s Queensway House after lift problems left residents stranded for up to a week.

The 13-storey building’s lift got stuck on Thursday, November 22, trapping a man for half an hour before he was rescued by the fire brigade.

However, despite the council sending engineers, the lift continued to malfunction on and off well into the next week, leaving residents on the upper floors stranded.

A heavily pregnant resident living on an upper floor of Queensway House in Hatfield was only re-housed on Thursday, November 29.

A spokesperson for the council explained: “We fixed the initial problems with the lift at Queensway House so that residents were able stay in their homes,” adding that offers of alternative accommodation were made as soon as it was clear repairs were needed.

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“We are very sorry for the inconvenience and anxiety caused and would like to thank Queensway House residents for their ongoing patience and support,” added the spokesperson.

The engineer reportedly suspects vandalism for the ongoing problems, chiming with residents’ concerns about security.

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The council serviced the door entry, which has had malfunction complaints from residents, on October 30.

A new lift is set to be installed in the new year.

The lift is one of several upgrades in process to the council-owned building, some in response to post-Grenfell fire safety guidance and others pegged to general living standards.

At a council meeting on November 19, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Rosie Newbigging raised the issue of Queensway House as an example of “shocking” social housing: “I have seen evidence of damp, mould, sub standard living conditions and health and fire safety at risk.

Residents regularly complain that sewage waste backs up, with toilets spouting their contents back onto apartment floors. A contractor has been appointed to descale six waste pipes. “We will continue to monitor its effectiveness and schedule other works if needed,” said the spokesperson.

After complaints of dated and worn-out fittings, four new bathrooms and three kitchens have also been scheduled into the council’s work programme.

Ms Newbigging also took aim at the time it has taken to fit sprinklers. “18 months after the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, does the council agree with me that it is an outrage that these sprinklers have not yet been fitted?” she asked at the council meeting.

The council, saying it put fire safety as a priority, filled in the flats’ non-fire-safety-compliant bathroom windows before a ventilation plan was in place.

The work of developing a sprinkler and ventilation system in the face of “occasionally confusing” government guidance has been time-consuming, according to the council. As a result, 17 flats have been issued with portable dehumidifiers to combat the resulting chronic damp and mould.

The council is currently aiming to procure a contractor for the system by January 2019.

Fire doors are now more than 90 per cent complete, said the spokesperson.

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