'Am I not worth it?': Elderly Camden estate residents without heating and hot water

The Dunboyne Road Estate

The Dunboyne Road Estate - Credit: Georgina McCartney

Residents of a Camden estate say they have been without heating and hot water for more than a week. 

The grade II-listed Dunboyne Road Estate in Gospel Oak has had issues with heating and hot water for years, residents say, as well as issues with a security gate and lights.

Andrew Tidey, 66, said he has been unable to run a bath since his hot water went off last Tuesday. He boils water in pots on the cooker and uses the kettle to get hot water. 

As a tenant of Dunboyne for 21 years, he said: “I’m losing it. I’ve lost faith completely in the council. They have let us all down."  

Andrew has decided to leave the estate, despite spending more than two decades there.

“I’ve got a lovely garden that I’ve been taking care of for these 21 years but I don’t want to sit in the cold again," he said. 

“I’m going to miss it, but I don’t want to die of the cold in the winter, when you get to my age and you get a cold, you could die of pneumonia”. 

Boiling water on the stove at the Dunboyne Road Estate

Boiling water on the stove at the Dunboyne Road Estate - Credit: Andrew Tidey

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Mr Tidey showed the Ham&High his diary which recorded engineers visiting his flat eight times this year, but problems persist for him and other residents. 

Sammy Jackson, 69, has spent 20 years in her flat on the Dunboyne estate and her bedroom reportedly drops to 13C in winter when the heating fails. 

Age UK says that 18C should be the minimum temperature for an elderly person’s bedroom. 

“It’s not good in the winter to have elderly people shivering. I’ve already had leg warmers and my hat on and it’s not even winter yet," said Sammy. 

“I’m upset and depressed. The engineer came yesterday and got the heating going but it was going off again before he left." 

She said her hot water has either been off or working poorly since September 10 on this instance, but that issues have persisted for years.

Even when both are working, she said she can rarely have a hot bath as her new council-provided boiler is too small to heat up enough water to fill her bath.  

She said: “I have to boil the kettle five or seven times for a bath. I’m nearly 70 and I don’t like carrying full kettles of hot water because I have arthritis. I might lose strength in my hand or wrist.  

“You feel like you’re against a brick wall and Camden should take people seriously. 

“Time passes and they send these poor guys to fix something that is possibly unfixable." 

A boiler at the Dunboyne Road Estate

A boiler at the Dunboyne Road Estate - Credit: Sammy Jackson

Engineers have reportedly visited the Dunboyne Estate hundreds of times over the years in attempt to make repairs. 

“Am I not worth it? I know I’m worth a beautiful life and I could create that if I wasn’t freezing. It puts you off doing anything”, Ms Jackson said. 

Residents are unsure of the source of the problem, but believe the main boiler room, located next to the estate’s shop, is malfunctioning, as multiple flats will lose their hot water and heating around the same time. 

“We have a running joke: it’s Friday so the heating or hot water may go off," Sammy said. 

An elderly man, 77, who lives on Dunboyne and wished to stay anonymous, told the Ham&High he has had issues with his heater since he moved in seven years ago. In this outage, he has been without both for more than a week. 

The council gave him four electric radiators, but they are expensive to run and inefficient.   

“I have a heart problem which the council know about," he said. "I have to be very careful not to catch a cold or Covid, so I do my best but sometimes it’s hard and I’m put in danger. 

“Last year they gave me a new radiator and a thermostat, neither of which work – it’s useless." 

The 77-year-old goes to his son’s house for a shower and struggles to do basic chores without hot water.  

“Just imagine washing the dishes with cold water it’s almost impossible and that’s what I’ve done since last Monday," he said. 

Councillor Meric Apak (Lab), cabinet member for better homes, said: “We are putting new processes and additional resources in place to address this.

“We are always striving to improve our services to residents and investigate any recurring issues. We will therefore be reviewing the recent call outs to Dunboyne to see if there are improvements we can make.”