Tower Hamlets residents left without clean water for months

Shona Bland, a resident of the Pollard Street THCH building, showing off the cloudy tap water in her flat. Pic: Shona Bland @ twitter

Residents living in housing blocks on Pollard Street, Bethnall Green, which are managed by Tower Hamlets Community Housing (THCH), claim they have not had clean water since Christmas.

According to the tenants, the water “sputters” and is “brown” or “cloudy” at all times.

To shower properly or cook, residents have to let the water run for about 10-15 minutes and it “still cuts off randomly sometimes”.

One of the residents, Shona Bland, has shared footage of the unclean water.

Thames Water, the provider of the water for the THCH managed buildings, told Eastlondonlines: “It is an internal pump issue, which means it’s the responsibility of THCH.” As a result they said there is nothing they can do to resolve the issue.

Thames Water also confirmed that the complaints about the problem started to occur at end of December, 2017.

Pam Bhamra, Director of Operations at THCH, said that the water specialists had tested the drinking water supply last month and had confirmed that it is of appropriate quality.

Bharma told the Evening Standard: “We have been working consistently to resolve the intermittent flow rates in water pressure that have unfortunately been affecting a small number of properties.”

In a letter from Tower Hamlets Community Housing addressed to the tenants, it is confirmed that the plans to renew the water tanks and fix the water supply are underway, in a process that will last until September.

The further postponement is explained by THCH as being caused by certain legislations that require extended periods over which they are to notify all the tenants and give them a 30-day period to decline.

Previously, July was established to be the expected resolution time.

Bland told Eastlondlines: “We didn’t even hear anything from either THCH or our letting agents, Portico Property, until reporters got involved.

“We only heard from them this month, despite our complaints since December.

“And even when they did respond, we would get questions like ‘Do you know where the water pumps are?’ when they’d try to fix it. Of course we don’t! They should be the ones who know this!

“Regardless, we got two letters – one first aimed at July as the moment all of this ends. The other one postponed it until September, which is funny not only because they need a month to notify everyone but only thought about that now, but also because me and my flatmates are moving out in September. We aren’t going to tolerate this much longer.”

According to Bland, her flatmates sometimes shower at the gym because of how intermittent the water flow is. “Sometimes you’ll have shampoo in your hair and the water will just cut off and not come back for a while. What do you do then?”

The prolonged waiting, as well as the total time it has taken THCH to start dealing with the issue, has caused tenants much grief and frustration.

However, residents have previously complained about other issues with THCH and Portico Property.

Bland also told Eastlondlines: “Me and my housemates moved in after some students lived there.

“No cleaning was done. There was still food in the cupboards and trash in the bin. The windows won’t lock properly.

“I just think it’s not fair. They haven’t considered us at all. And even then, at least we are young. We get by. But there are families with kids who live here as well.

“So many possible solutions or at least temporary arrangements could have been agreed on. Instead, we got months of silence.

“But that’s just how renting in London is sometimes, isn’t it? They do the bare minimum and expect people to be content with that.”

According to James King, a Labour councillor for the Limehouse area, the Pollard Street buildings are not the only THCH managed properties suffering from the water issue.

Earl Attlee Court residents in Limehouse are also experiencing problems with their water supply due to incorrect boiler installation.

Tower Hamlets Community Housing is a government-funded organization that, according to their official website, “prides itself on its high levels of resident satisfaction, providing a mix of quality, affordable housing and has a proud history of delivering innovative and regenerative housing developments”.


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