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Islington Tribune - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 17 July 2009
Estate rewiring work has reduced tenants to tears

• I WOULD like to thank the Tribune for featuring the problems residents are experiencing with rewiring on the Popham estate. We have been lucky in having the support of MP Emily Thornberry and councillors Gary Doolan and Martin Klute.
On a daily basis I am receiving calls from residents literally in tears at the prospect of having their home “vandalised” by this work. Lena Shah, Homes for Islington (HfI) project officer, has categorically stated there is no budget for redecoration of homes damaged by this work. So a Decent Homes project is allowed to leave you without a decent home.
Your feature quoted an HfI spokesman as saying that “the work is not being carried out as part of the Decent Homes work”, yet at meetings and telephone calls I have had with Ms Shah, she says it is.
Also, Peter Taunton, director of property services, sent a letter to all residents on the estate stating that its policy is to “rewire properties that need it as part of the Decent Homes programme because installing new kitchens requires an electrical upgrade and it is more efficient and less disruptive to undertake all the work in one go rather than return a few years later to rewire the rest of the property”.
Mr Taunton then adds: “Costs would increase because HfI would need to undertake some work now to achieve the legal standard, undertake periodic inspections and then fully rewire in a few years time.” Does this not tell you that the reason for “bullying” residents into this work is all about cost, not need.
The work is being carried out using wiring in plastic trunking. The front cover can be pulled off, thus causing a hazard if children play with it. The current wiring was put in walls and ceilings using conduit, so there is no reason (unless someone has completely re-shaped their home) why wiring cannot be pulled through, and a redecoration budget given to the resident, should work be needed.
The Institute of Electrical Engineers has said that installing a suitable trip switch fuse box with a new earth wire would also suffice, without the need for rewiring.
Another question that HfI has yet to answer is why only tenants are involved in this work. Surely, if HfI deems the current wiring to be unsafe, then it should be classed as communal work and leaseholders included as well. The fact that leaseholders are not included proves that this work is being carried out under the Decent Homes programme, thus giving tenants the right to opt out.
Secretary, Popham Estate Tenants’ and Residents’ Association

• FOLLOWING your article on rewiring work being carried out at the Popham estate, I only wish I had known about this before work was carried out on my home in April.
The contractors swamped my home, moving my furniture and ornaments, damaging them in the process. They were thrown into a black plastic sack.
My home has been ruined, and a representative of the contractor has told me that there is no budget for compensation for damage, and that I should seek legal advice.
Despite numerous calls to the contractor, I have had no reply. I have now had to pay a solicitor to take up my case.
Islington seems to pride itself on decent homes, which mine once was but now I am ashamed of it.
Popham Road, N1

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Islington Tribune, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to Deadline for letters is midday Wednesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld . Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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