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London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs visit Watts Grove. (The tenants shown were not affected by the sewage leak.)
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs visit Watts Grove. (The tenants shown were not affected by the sewage leak.)

Bungle-Biggs leaves tenants in the doo-doo

JOHN BIGGS was flushed with success last week – but it’s all gone horribly wrong as a household in the Council’s new housing development at Watts Grove has spent their first few hours in their new flat wading through raw sewage.

The Watts Grove development was the brainchild of Cllr Rabina Khan. As Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Khan put together the funding package to rebuild this run-down estate and got the show on the road. Once John Biggs was elected in 2015, it was Biggs and his Cabinet Member for Development – Cllr Rachel Blake – who had to see the building through to completion.

The Tower Hamlets mayor was so pleased with the new development that he invited London Mayor Sadiq Khan to open the new estate. Now one of the new flats is flooding – and no one seemed able to correct the problem in a timely fashion.

New tenant Ms B. was looking forward to living in a new flat in Watts Grove. Just two days after she moved in, her toilets and bath began to overflow with raw sewage. An operative sent by Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) to repair the problem was not able to take any action and could only recommend that THH, which manages the properties on behalf of the Council, call in the builders – Mulalley & Co.

Mulalley has history in Tower Hamlets. The company was the major contractor in the disastrous and expensive major works on the four Council estates on the Isle of Dogs which transferred to Toynbee Island Homes in 2005, before being taken over by One Housing Group. On several occasions they had to be called back to remedy problems with work they had done.

The contract to build Watts Grove was worth £24 million, according to Mulalley’s website. Now questions have to be asked about how John Biggs’s Administration supervised the building contract.

While THH and Mulalley wondered how to fix the problem, Ms B. was left standing outside her flat, trying to escape the stench of raw sewage, watching it flow through the whole flat, damaging her new home and all her furniture – and wondering how to protect her children.

Cllr Rabina Khan said, “This situation is a complete disgrace. Why wasn’t this building checked before the Council accepted it? No tenant of Tower Hamlets should have to live in a flat covered in raw sewage coming from the flats above. I have asked Tower Hamlets Homes to rescue this tenant immediately and get Mulalley back at once. John Biggs was happy enough to open the flats in the scheme I got going – and he can’t turn his back on these tenants now.”

•STOP PRESS: Cllr Khan contacted Tower Hamlets Homes about this matter early this morning. By lunchtime THH had managed to move Ms B. and her family to an empty flat on the estate on a temporary basis while they repaired the problem. They have promised to give the flat a thorough clean and to replace some items damaged by the sewage leak.

•Read more about it:
Return of the council home: but not as you know it!
Bungle-Biggs wastes £3.5m on consultants

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