Housing provider pledges to tackle security at flats
Residents living in a block of flats in Keynsham say they feel they are finally being listened to after sharing their fears over safety and crime at a public meeting.
Broken CCTV, missing security doors and gates, overflowing bins and exposed wiring were just some of the issues raised by residents of Tintagel Close who attended a meeting of Keynsham Town Council en masse last month.
Councillors heard that CCTV around the site was not working and entrances were covered in graffiti and urine, with anyone able to gain access to the building’s stairwells because of the missing doors.
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Housing association Curo, which manages most of the properties at Tintagel Close, has since told Keynshamvoice it is planning a programme of work at the site, including new doors and gates.
Tintagel Close hit the headlines over the summer when children started a huge fire in a bin store, damaging nearby properties. Curo has now begun work on installing a new store to replace temporary bins in the courtyard of the flats, which residents said didn’t have enough capacity for the 44 properties and had overflowed onto an area where children played.
A break-in and vandalism at an empty flat in the building on September 8 finally prompted resident Sharon Tucker to contact town councillor Dave Biddleston.
She said: “I had called police three times over this flat and I just thought I can’t live like this anymore, worrying what’s going to happen next.
“We have contacted Curo and emailed B&NES but nothing ever gets done. I think people had given up.
“In Tintagel Close, it can feel like we are ostricised from the rest of Keynsham but after the meeting, it feels like someone’s finally listening. People here are really keen to set up a residents’ association and it’s becoming a community – I’m feeling hopeful.”
She added she was pleased to hear the doors would be replaced but said previous wooden replacements had simply been kicked in by vandals.
After visiting Tintagel Close, Mr Biddleston said he was “gobsmacked and upset” at what he saw and drew up a report, which he presented at the September council meeting.
Branding photos of damage and disrepair at the flats “shameful”, councillors voted to ask Curo bosses to meet with council leaders, while Mr Biddleston and other councillors would meet a senior estates manager from the housing association at Tintagel. The council will also investigate the lack of CCTV at the site, help people set up a residents’ association and look at providing more youth outreach work in the area.
Town clerk Cheryl Scott said: “Keynsham Town Council is shocked to learn of the appalling conditions the residents of Tintagel Close are currently facing. It is completely unacceptable and we have requested a meeting to discuss how Curo will address these shameful living conditions and their very serious health and safety issues.”
In a statement to Keynshamvoice, Curo said: “We’re aware that there is persistent vandalism and criminal damage at Tintagel Close and we understand the distress this causes.
“Some of this is being carried out by children who don’t live in the area and as a landlord we’re limited in what we can do to tackle these issues. We ask residents to always report criminal activity such as vandalism to the police who are best placed to take firm action.
“We have ensured that the boarded-up property is secure. We are not aware of any fires being started in the property and we urge residents to report any suspicious activity to the police.
“The CCTV at Tintagel Close has been damaged beyond repair through vandalism and we are looking at alternative systems to deter anti-social behaviour.
“We’re looking into replacing the vandalised gates with an alternative that provides better security and we’re also commissioning works to replace missing stairwell doors.
“Work is under way to replace and upgrade the fire-damaged bin storage facilities. We have consulted with residents about the best location for the new facility and installation is due to start early October.”
The spokesperson added: “We want to assure our residents that we are taking the situation seriously. We are meeting with B&NES ward councillors to discuss residents’ concerns and potential improvements at the estate.”
Mr Biddleston said he was keen to see action from the housing provider as soon as possible.
“Residents say they have been complaining about the lack of doors for two years,” he said. “It’s all very well suggesting that the vandalism is caused by outside elements but Curo have not done enough to ensure the security of their own residents.
“I would like Curo to begin work on making the flats secure and beyond the reach of vandals within the next couple of months. I’m grateful for the offer of meeting the senior estates manager to get things sorted out as quickly as possible.”
Avon and Somerset Police confirmed they had been called to a break-in at Tintagel Close on September 8 at 4.15pm and officers found a window had been broken but there was no trace of those involved.
A spokesperson added: “Neighbourhood police are
aware of ongoing issues with security at the location after damage to doors, gates and intercom systems. The team is working with the community and the housing provider to address these issues.”