Council Accused of Gagging Meath Court Residents

Tenants won't be allowed to speak at meeting on their situation

Liberal Democrat councillors with residents at Meath Court
Liberal Democrat councillors with residents at Meath Court

November 17, 2023

Ealing Council is being accused by the opposition of not being willing to listen to the residents of Meath Court.

The Liberal Democrats on the council called an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to discuss the issue of conditions on the shipping container estate in Acton.

Request for the meeting was made in mid October and the Lib Dems claimed that it has been deliberated scheduled on 19 December, just before Christmas, to minimise its impact which they have described as filibustering.

In addition, the council has said that residents of the estate will not be allowed to address the meeting, which will be attended by all councillors plus relevant council officers including the Chief Executive. The EGM is being scheduled for half an hour before the regular Full Council Meeting. The council denies that a request has been made for the residents to speak.

The estate, which was meant to provide a temporary solution to the housing crisis in the borough, has been plagued by a range of issues including cockroach infestations, mould, unsafe stairs, strangers asleep in the laundry room or on walkways and a consistent problem with drug dealing and associated violence.

The Labour administration has said that it will be decommissioning a similar estate, Marston Court in Hanwell, within the current financial year as part of its four-year plan for the borough after it was found by council officers to be ‘not fit for purpose’. The residents will be moved to temporary accommodation elsewhere. However, although the council says it intends to close Meath Court, no timescale has been given leaving the current residents in limbo.

A report by housing and homeless charity Shelter previously previously said: "Housing families in unsuitable converted shipping containers for months at a time is a sad reflection of the housing crisis."

Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition said, “Liberal Democrats are appalled that Labour are not prioritising the opportunity for residents (of Meath Court) to speak but are leaving them in a squalid situation, having delayed the meeting taking place as long as they can. Those who are suffering are not being listened to and so lessons are not being learned. Shocking”

Councillor Jon Ball, Opposition Spokesperson on Planning, Licensing and Housing said: “The families feel overlooked, ignored and want answers in the short term so they can have some hope for the future. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight until these families and residents get a proper quality of housing.”

The council has pledged to invest £400million in the borough’s housing stock in its four-year plan to ensure "everyone can live in a safe, secure and healthy home". The plan includes the building of 4,000 new ‘genuinely affordable’ homes.

A council spokesperson said: "First and foremost, the council is decommissioning Meath and Marston Courts, and is actively in the process of rehousing residents. The council is therefore in constant contact with residents. We are not aware that any residents wanted to speak at the Extraordinary Council Meeting, which was cynically called by the Liberal Democrats in order to ask us to do something that we were already doing.

“If the Liberal Democrats have received such a request, they have not passed it on as they should have done, so it is false to suggest that this is being blocked.”

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