Residents of Wilmcote House got together last Thursday 28 July 2016 to voice their concerns over the impact of a redevelopment project managed by Portsmouth City Council.
Frustrated by Tory and Lib Dem inaction over their living conditions during the building work, residents turned to Cllr Stephen Morgan, the newest Charles Dickens ward councillor for help. Stephen hosted a public meeting for residents to investigate what could be done to help them.
Wilmcote House in north Somerstown is currently undergoing major refurbishment to communal areas and individual flats. The scheme started back in December 2013, but has been hit by a series of serious problems, flooding of homes and delays which have led to mounting dissatisfaction among residents.
Questions were put to the Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Steve Wemyss, at March’s council meeting on behalf of residents, but little progress has been seen since. At this Full Council meeting, the Cabinet Member said that the council would not undertake public meetings with residents as they would end up being “raucous and uncontrollable”.
Concerned that residents were being left in the dark and uninformed about these delays, problems with work already undertaken and the possibility of compensation for the disruption, Cllr Morgan has worked with residents to set up a forum for neighbours to meet and have their say. The second meeting took place on Thursday night at the Omega Centre, a short walk from Wilmcote House.
“Residents have been let down time and time again by this development and rightly want answers. The meeting gave us the chance to meet to share issues, agree a way forward and seek better engagement with the council. This scheme is meant to be improving people’s lives, not making their lives worse. Local people deserve better, a rent rebate for the disruption and an end date in sight for the works”.
Chris Evans, a resident of Wilmcote House who has suffered a series of problems as a result of the works said:
“We’re all very frustrated. This scheme has been hit with problem after problem. It is hugely inconvenient for families living here and our lives have been turned upside down. We are grateful the meetings have been established and for Stephen’s actions”.
The council have previously stated it was “robustly managing its contract” with construction company Keepmoat, and that the scheme will be completed by January 2017. The end date of the scheme is now uncertain and concerns over the delivery of the project remain.