Telford Court resident reveals reality of life in the tower block

Mushrooms were growing through the ceiling in a flat in Telford Court.

Mushrooms were growing through the ceiling in a flat in Telford Court. - Credit: Supplied

Weeks after learning about council plans to bulldoze the city's only tower block, residents of Telford Court are slowly coming to terms with the reality of the situation.

Some now face the heart-wrenching prospect of leaving their homes of 50 years, while others are excitedly seizing the opportunity for a new start elsewhere.

Whatever their individual situation, they are united by the realisation that demolition is almost a certainty, and their days living in the high-rise are numbered.

We spoke to one resident about the experiences of her family during the time they have been living in the building, the unanswered questions surrounding the current consultation, and what her hopes are for the future.

Diana (not her real name) said the communication they received about the building's proposed demolition and relocation of residents came as a complete shock to everyone.

"Both were extremely out of the blue about a year ago we all had new front doors, new fire alarms drilled in, new communal doors, new balconies fitted, new CCTV throughout communal areas and all communal areas re-painted all of which have been needed for many years - so why waste the money on 'making it safe' now when it has been decided to be demolished?

"Following this initial letter here has been no further formal communication on the proposals - all the council workers are so relaxed and have initially filled us all with hope, saying 'you can have whatever you want' and 'all will be fine', which is not only very misleading but also a waste of time as they can't actually tell us anything.

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"We have heard through other sources now that there are three possible areas that are being allocated for Telford Court residents: The King Offa, The police station and Batchwood where they have built social housing within the last year, If this is the plan then we should be told. 

"The money that all residents are receiving to relocate comes from a government fund that we are entitled to and is not council money, but we have been made to feel that we should be grateful for it. This money will be used for moving and decorating whatever property we move into, as older style council homes will need a lot of money and time to bring them up to a liveable standard."

Damp and cracked plaster on the ceiling of a flat in Telford Court.

Damp and cracked plaster on the ceiling of a flat in Telford Court. - Credit: Supplied

Her own experiences of living in Telford Court reads like a shopping list of social housing woes, from unexplained leaks and mushrooms growing on walls, to exposed asbestos and a bathroom rendered unusable for days after the ceiling collapsed, forcing the family to use a temporary toilet in a communal flat down an alley.

"We have asked as we are moving out anyway within the next 12-18 months can they not find us a new home sooner so we can be safer? As you can imagine by this point we really have had enough as we think everything we are saying as a valid point and is probably happening to most people within this block, we want out."

Diana added: "Telford Court has had a bad name for a number of years due to drug use, deaths, and anti-social behaviour. Nothing proactively has ever been done to ensure anyone's safety within this block. The awful tragedy of Shumin Husain is infamous, but still to this day the windows open inwards fully all the way up to the 11th floor, I would have thought that would have been a high priority given the nature of what happened here.

"My questions to our landlord St Albans district council are: the social housing situation is already full stretch, so how are you planning on housing us? Why have been left for so long with exposure to asbestos? Why when reporting vandalism or theft or any crime is nothing done? Why are we paying a service charge when our local neighbour does all our gardens for us? When am I personally going to be moved into permanent safer living conditions?"