Verney House: ‘Freezing’ pensioners at Lisson Grove block in week-long heating nightmare

Verney House residents had a weeks' worth of heating and hot water nightmares with a new boiler. Pic

Verney House residents had a weeks' worth of heating and hot water nightmares with a new boiler. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

With a newly-refurbished boiler system, young families and pensioners living in a Lisson Grove council block weren’t expecting a litany of problems when the time came to switch the heating on.

But with it kicking in from early October, teething problems and a lack of information about keeping the internal plumbing in good working order led to sporadic heating and hot water outages for a week, just a month later.

After a week of trouble at Verney House, the council fixed the issue, but one woman told this newspaper that before that, she had to boil kettles to give her injured daughter a shower.

Tenant Bernadette McCarthy, 88, said: "Every week the heating would go off, and we'll be waiting for it to come on until well into the next morning."

A neighbour Suhad Amra, who's daughter Lisa is six and has a broken ankle, added: "I have health conditions. I have to have tablets to get to sleep. It's been freezing. My daughter has her ankle and when it's been cold outside we've been forced to stay at home and it's been freezing too."

Lisa herself added it "was so upsetting".

Ashty Abraham, 59, added: "It's been on one day, off the next. It's cold and it's not been predictable."

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A Westminster City Council spokesperson said they had first been called about issues on November 19 and "acted as quickly as possible to restore heating and warm water".

The new boiler system was fitted over 2017 and leaseholders in the council-owned block were given a £10,000 service charge bill for the work. The block was - until earlier this year - managed by Westminster Council's arms-length housing provider CityWest Homes, but CWH was dissolved and management brought back in house in April.

Some residents, including Bernadette said service might have actually got worse. She told the Wood&Vale: "It's gone downhill. They said it would be all wonderful but it's not solved it. It's all the same people."

The town hall spokesperson added: "We understand that warm water and central heating are winter essentials and treat the loss of these services in our homes as a priority. A temporary fix was made - restoring heating in several homes suffering from low pressure within hours."

The council said it had solved the issue by November 25.