'Useless' fans are causing a stink in block of flats

FUMING residents in a Finchley Road block of flats have been left gasping for air because of a useless ventilation system

Ben McPartland

FUMING residents in a Finchley Road block of flats have been left gasping for air because of a useless ventilation system.

Inefficient extractor fans in Chalford House mean that whenever anyone cooks, fumes and odours are blasted into residents' flats rather than outside.

The lingering smell has prevented some elderly bedsit dwellers from sleeping at night, while others are desperate to move out.

The occupants of 10 flats have sent a petition to Camden Council demanding it takes action to remedy the


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One of them, Dora Harris, said: "I have been here for 20 years and I have never had anything so bad as this. The stench is terrible. I have to keep on washing the place all the time. I am in such a state."

As the situation has worsened, Ms Harris has been drawn into rows with her upstairs neighbour whose cooking, she says, is the source of a lot of the bad smells.

"I went up there once and she told me in no uncertain terms not to come back," she said.

"But I don't really blame her - she has to keep on cooking. It's the people at the top, in Camden Council, who are in the wrong in my opinion."

The council brought in contractors last year to repair the ventilation system but residents are adamant it is still not up to scratch.

Residents have written to their local Tory councillor Andrew Marshall to ask for help.

Their petition says: "The council needs to be reminded that this existing system was not designed originally to cope with heavy, strong, prolonged cooking which goes on in a number of flats. So in the interests of health and safety, we would appreciate your help in securing for us a satisfactory and adequate ventilation system."

Cllr Marshall, who is deputy leader at the town hall, picked up their struggle and wrote to director of housing Neil Litherland.

Cllr Marshall said: "Please can I ask that this situation is looked at by a senior officer so we really try to get to the bottom of it.

"The contractors have advised that there is a bit of equipment they could fit that would materially help the ventilation. We owe it to them to really try and resolve this as soon as possible."

A council spokeswoman said: "We would like to reassure residents that following two inspections at Chalford House, both the fans and extraction systems in the building have been found to be operating normally.

"If residents have any concerns, we will be happy to discuss these with them."