Residents say they feel 'unsafe' at Hatfield's Queensway House

PUBLISHED: 11:04 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:27 14 June 2019

Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

Archant

Queensway House residents feel unsafe in the Hatfield tower block due to what they see as anti-social behaviour and a lack of structural integrity in the building.

The front door of Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinThe front door of Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

A woman, who asked not to be named as she does not want her co-workers to know she lives in Queensway, said she regularly steps over drug users "shooting up" on the stairs.

"I have rang 101 [the non-emergency police number] many times and nothing has changed," she said.

Most of the 11 residents that attended a meeting last week about the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council-owned building stated they had reported drug users to the police on numerous occasions.

"We have adjusted the door to ensure it closes fully behind people and we encourage residents to report any incidents like this to us, or the police, as soon as they happen," said a WHBC spokesperson.

This is where residents claim you can see dried blood from where drug users regularly 'shoot up'. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.This is where residents claim you can see dried blood from where drug users regularly 'shoot up'. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

The WHT has checked with the police to find out how many times residents have reported drug use in the building, but the Herts force could find no records.

A spokesperson for Herts Police said, "Officers take all reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and drug use seriously.

"If you have information about ASB or drug use, please do not hesitate to get in touch so that appropriate action can be taken."

Many of the residents also think the drugs and alcohol recovery charity Resolve opening up an all-year-round night shelter in the basement of Queensway House could further exasperate ASB and drug use.

Residents claim people keep the door open by putting tiles underneath the front door of Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinResidents claim people keep the door open by putting tiles underneath the front door of Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

Resolve CEO Joe Heeney told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that night staff will be there at all times and hopes residents will reach out to the charity if they have any concerns.

"We have asked them to speak to us about their concerns as we have had heard they are not clear what the project is," said Mr Heeney.

But he said residents have so far not engaged with the project, which includes a cafe - aimed at anyone and everyone - where you can pay what you think a meal is worth.

Adding to the feeling of the building being unsafe, residents also expressed concerns about the structural integrity of the building.

The first floor at Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinThe first floor at Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

"Each day I wonder if I am going to wake up," Tamaryn Lombard, who moved in a year ago, told this paper.

Leaseholder Mark Swift - who bought his flat in 2008 - agrees, and thinks it would not hold up to a structural test if one was to be carried out.

"[WHBC] won't carry one out because they know they won't pass it.

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But for the moment he said he's stuck in the situation, a view shared by the other 10 residents the WHT spoke to.

All of the residents said they hope the tower does get condemned so they can move out.

"The cladding was sent away for government testing and we received confirmation that it was not the same type as that used on Grenfell," the WHBC spokeswoman said.

"As a precautionary measure, we removed the cladding that was fixed to the block and are working with our architects to design a replacement solution.

Uncleaned floors. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinUncleaned floors. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

"We are putting all possible fire protection measures in place for residents at Queensway House and urge residents to contact our resident liaison manager to discuss any specific concerns they have."

The council plans to install a sprinkler and ventilation system in September, a few months after the lift comes online at the end of June.

"Our mechanical and electrical consultant is finalising the designs," a WHBC spokeswoman said.

Some residents also believe that cleaning and repairs have not been carried out since the lift broke down in November 2018.

Cleaning rota last filled out date is 2016. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Cleaning rota last filled out date is 2016. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

"We have a deep clean arranged for the end of June," the WHBC spokeswoman added.

Even when cleaning is carried out Mr Swift maintains it can be dangerous as wet floor signs are not put at the top of stairs. He said his partner almost fell down the stairs with her baby as a result.

WHBC, maintains it is "investigating this case".

One 53-year old man also said his boiler has not been fixed since breaking down 15 days ago.

Gap between a door not filled in Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Gap between a door not filled in Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

This means he has no hot water or heating in his flat, which has been a regularly occurrence according to a Freedom of Information request that he sought, which found his boiler has been repaired 23 times since May 2014.

"Also during Christmas I had two weeks without heating," he said.

In response to the cases of cleaning and repairs needing to be done, a WHBC spokeswoman said: "There may be issues that we have not been made aware of.

"We are keen for residents to raise any concerns with the council directly - which they can do easily in person, by email, or over the phone - so that we can address anything that isn't currently being investigated or worked on."

Queensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinQueensway House. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

WHBC is also regulary doing coffee mornings, sending newsletters and has a liason officer visting Queensway nearly every day.

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