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Residents stuck in tower block riddled with fire safety problems just yards from site of Lakanal House tragedy – South London News

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By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents are stuck in a dangerous tower block riddled with fire safety problems because there aren’t enough council homes for them to leave.

People living in of Marie Curie House on the Sceaux Gardens estate in Southwark have unknowingly lived in the death trap flats for years.

The apartment block is plagued by similar faults to Lakanal House – a tower opposite it where six people died in a blaze in 2009.

Residents of Marie Curie House went on living in the block for another decade before it emerged their building had similar faults to Lakanal House in 2020.

They have been living under a 24/7 waking watch – where somebody patrols the corridors looking for signs of fire – ever since.

Southwark council told residents they would have to leave their homes while works to make the building safe took place in May 2021.

But 98 families are still living there, according to the estate’s tenants’ association.

Zainab Bangura said she felt Southwark council was neglecting the tower block (Picture: Robert Firth)

Mum-of-two Kafilat Raji is one of the residents yet to leave. She said: “Since they said they need to do the repairs the fire alarm keeps going off. I’m concerned.

“We’ve not found a place yet – it’s worrying. Southwark said we have until February to find somewhere, but they’ve extended it.

“I’m trying to stay in Camberwell because the kids go to school here but it’s difficult to find anywhere suitable.”

Fellow resident Zainab Bangura said she couldn’t wait to leave the block.

The 46-year-old said: “I have a flat that I’m due to view. I’m just waiting for the council to ring me up so I can see it.

“I hope I can sort something soon. You get leaks and rats here.

“Everywhere there are gaps where rats and mice can get in. They’re moving from one flat to another.”

Marie Curie House on the Sceaux Gardens estate (Picture: Robert Firth)

All remaining residents have been given Band One status by Southwark – the highest priority for council housing – but huge demand for cheap properties in the borough means residents are still struggling to find somewhere.

Southwark has 16,500 people on its council house waiting list.

A report into why Southwark failed to complete safety works on Marie Curie House at the same time as the Lakanal building is yet to be published.

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Southwark cabinet member for council homes and homelessness, said: “We did commission an independent report, and disappointingly it did not go far enough to address the key questions that we and residents want answers to.

“This is not good enough, and we will be pursuing the full, required report until it is done properly.

“We remain very keen to see answers as to why all the required safety works to Marie Curie, which we are currently progressing, were not addressed at the same time as the Lakanal building.

“I understand it will be frustrating for residents to wait a little longer, but we have to get it right.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience while we work through that process and it will be published, in public, once we have answers.”

Pictured top: Kafilat Raji said she was struggling to find a cheap enough house to move into (Picture: Robert Firth)

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