MP's stay puts spotlight on 'forgotten village'
TOWN HALL chiefs are demanding the government review its legislation after the appalling state of the borough s council housing was highlighted on national television. In Tower Block of Commons, being aired on Channel 4 on Mondays, Liberal Democrat MP Mar
TOWN HALL chiefs are demanding the government review its legislation after the appalling state of the borough's council housing was highlighted on national television.
In Tower Block of Commons, being aired on Channel 4 on Mondays, Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten swapped life in his leafy Hampshire constituency for the Goresbrook Village estate in Dagenham.
He was horrified to find damp and mould in kitchens and bathrooms during filming of the programme in August.
He said then: "It's been an extraordinary experience.
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"I'm exhausted - I have seen mould in kitchens, in bathrooms, I have been sleeping on different sofas.
"It has been a rollercoaster in terms of emotions."
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Residents said their flats had been flooded with waste water as a result of burst pipes.
They raised issues about damp, loose window frames, urine and excrement on the stairwells and frequent lift breakdowns.
Sloane Warbrick, 27, and fellow residents, Candy Samuels, 49, Steven Mizen, 23, and Alan Jones, set up The Forgotten Village - a committee in search for answers about the future of the estate.
Barking and Dagenham Council blames the state of the homes on the government's Housing Revenue Account (HRA), which sucks more than �20million out of the council's budget each year to pay off the national housing debt.
Council leader Cllr Liam Smith said: "We are severely limited in how much we can do to improve our housing stock because every year we have to pay back more than �20million of our rental income to the government.
"It's time we got our fair share of housing funding to be able to implement a comprehensive refurbishment programme across the borough.
"If the government scrapped the HRA then Barking and Dagenham could invest serious money in refurbishing homes and building new ones."
He said he would write to housing minister John Healey in the wake of the programme to reiterate this point.
In October, the council's Stand up For Local Housing rally saw campaigners descend upon Westminster in a bid to change the government's housing debt policies.
In January, Mr Healey announced a �3.2million cash boost for 34 new council homes in the borough.
He is due to announce reforms to the HRA subsidy system this month.