The South London estate where residents ‘feel so unsafe the playground is empty’

By Staff

Residents have said they feel ‘unsafe’ on their South West London estate and neighbours want to move out due to alleged anti-social behaviour. People living in Chertsey Court in Mortlake claimed the kids’ playground is now ’empty’ due to the issues and feel it takes ‘kicking up a riot’ for Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP), which manages the estate, to address concerns.

Residents spoke anonymously to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) about their concerns and claimed people do not feel safe living in Chertsey Court. A 38-year-old, who has been living on the estate for five years, said safety is a “huge issue” as he claimed there are areas around the estate where people buy drugs which leads to anti-social behaviour affecting residents.

He claimed incidents of anti-social behaviour became more frequent at the end of last year which improved after residents complained, but that there is ongoing anti-social behaviour affecting residents and some are even “trying to move out”. He said: “We have quite a nice courtyard, so in summer it’s good. Let’s say a few years ago we had a lot of kids, a lot of young families around, it was always noisy… now the kids’ playground is just empty all the time.”

READ MORE: Pregnant mum’s ‘nightmare’ in Richmond flat with leaky roof where the lift ‘keeps breaking’

The resident said the estate has major disrepair issues which neighbours have also reported to RHP, including lifts breaking down and mould in many flats, but safety is their urgent concern. He added: “People even say, OK, forget about the communal area repairs, we can live with this… please make this place safer.”

RHP told the LDRS it is working with residents, the Met Police and local agencies to address residents’ concerns about anti-social behaviour at Chertsey Court, which has fallen in recent weeks due to action it has taken. It added it will soon put in place community strategies for the estate and continue to have monthly meetings with partners to discuss concerns.

A 26-year-old resident and his 32-year-old flatmate claimed they have witnessed anti-social behaviour and violence in the estate’s courtyard. The 26-year-old, who has lived at Chertsey Court for four years, said: “We personally have been witness to acts of violence like somebody being kicked in the head, there was a bunch of people who were walking around the block singing who were definitely not residents who were very clearly on something, and then on top of that, there was a… [woman who] got attacked as well.”

He added: “I work from home so it just feels really unsafe, even sitting in your own flat and you hear screaming… outside.”

The resident also said the issues have improved since the end of last year, but that people living in Chertsey Court still “feel very unsafe”. He said he feels an “entire block has to be kicking up an absolute riot” for RHP to properly respond to their concerns. As a leaseholder, he added he eventually wants to rent out the flat but does not feel he can until the issues have been fully resolved.

Lucy Graley, director of operations at RHP, said: “All residents should feel safe and secure in their home and local community without suffering from the anti-social activities of others. We take all reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB) seriously and apply a victim-centred, problem-solving approach working with customers, police, and local agencies to tackle and prevent ASB.

“This joint-working approach, which we are using in addressing residents’ concerns at Chertsey Court, has seen a decrease in ASB in recent weeks due to the action taken. This action relies strongly on the residents’ support and reporting of incidents to help us in gathering information and evidence. Thank you to those who have reported incidents in recent weeks. I would urge all residents and community members to report incidents to the police.

“We will soon put in place community strategies for Chertsey Court. We will also continue to have monthly meetings with our partners to discuss concerns and attend resident meetings.”

In response to concerns about disrepair, Ms Graley said RHP expects to finish replacing all 18 lifts at Chertsey Court by the end of the month and contractors should attend breakdowns within four hours. She added it assesses each report of damp and mould to decide the cause and action needed, with properties identified for significant improvement works included in future investment programmes.

A Met Police spokesperson said: “We are aware of issues that have been raised by the local community of Chertsey Court, and would ask that any concerned residents that we are not already engaged with, to contact their local policing team via email mortlake&[email protected]. The importance of resolving these are demonstrated by the existence of a partnership initiative to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area that Chertsey Court falls within, consisting of the Metropolitan Police Service, Richmond Council and RHP.”

The spokesperson said residents are given monthly updates on measures being taken to progress the work and that, as a result of recent initiatives, safety has improved on the estate. They added: “We will continue to work as a partnership to address those concerns that have been raised, and act on any further information that is received to improve life in the area for residents and the community.”

Are you experiencing housing issues in London? Email [email protected].

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