Chester House resident – ‘Roof tiles fall on me as I leave home’

Rachel Stinson, right, and neighbour Julie Cotton

It’s like Russian roulette leaving our house, says pregnant mother after winds damage block

Published: September 29, 2011

A PREGNANT mother-of-three says leaving her home has become a “game of Russian roulette” due to stone slabs falling 50 feet from the roof of the housing block where she lives.

Rachel Stinson, 31, came home last week to find heavy tiles from the roof lying on the floor outside council-owned Chester House in Chester Road, Highgate.

It followed an incident three months ago when tiles fell from up high.

“You shouldn’t be scared that a piece of rock is going to fall on your head every time you leave,” said Ms Stinson.

“This is like the house that Jack built – and then left and forgot to finish. It is like Russian roulette leaving our house.”

She is extra vigilant because she saw the aftermath of the death of Saurav Ghai, the two-year-old boy crushed by a wall in 2008.

Ms Stinson said: “I was working in a shop on Southampton Road when that little boy was killed by the falling wall. I saw him pulled from the rubble – and even after that Camden Council leave it weeks before coming to fix huge stone slabs falling from the sky from our roof.”

She added: “Our path is a cut-through to Brookfield primary school and for the library – little children, toddlers even, walk down there with their parents following on the way to school as it is protected from the cars. The council have been as useful as a chocolate teapot when it comes to sorting out any of our problems.”

Tenants have had to watch other council blocks in the area get new roofs in recent months

But falling stones are not all residents say they have had to deal with – it could be marked as Camden’s unluckiest council blocks with biblical misfortune hitting Chester House in recent years.

A persistent wasp infestation forces the tenants to keep their windows shut every summer, while serious floods in the boiler room have left the building without hot water for days at a time.

Costa Costa, 42 who is currently regularly attending UCLH hospital for a serious illness, said: “I am a leaseholder here, not a council tenant, and I pay over £3,000 a year in service charges on top of the cost of the flat and this is the state they leave it in.”

A spokeswoman for Camden Council: “High winds last week blew a tree on to the roof of 6 Chester House which in turn dislodged a number of roof tiles. Council officers acted immediately and arranged for contractors to cordon off the area where the tiles had landed.

“A scaffolding crew has been arranged to mend the roof this week and the repair will be complete within days.”


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