Calls are growing for Southwark Council to repair estates’ security doors amid warnings of people smoking crack in stairwells and risks to women’s safety.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Victor Chamberlain has urged the council to review the security door situation across the borough.
He claimed estate residents were sometimes waiting weeks for estate doors replaced – prompting “undesirable people” to “take advantage of the lack of security”.
Cllr Chamberlain’s comments come three months after an assailant chased a woman through a Bermondsey block, which doesn’t have a security door.
Southwark Council Leader Kieron Williams said the council was already increasing funding for estates and that it was prioritising “the works that are most important to our residents”.
Speaking at Council Assembly on November 22, Cllr Victor Chamberlain said: “In September, I raised the case of a woman who was being chased home by a man into her block because the council had not responded to a tenant’s request for a security door on that block in South Bermondsey.
He added: “How can residents have any confidence that this council is taking this issue seriously and putting their safety at risk when they’re not responding to requests for secure doors?
“Will you commit to an urgent review of all the estates requesting repairs and door entry systems?”
The resident he was referring to was Grace Power, an economist who lives in South Bermondsey and suffered the terrifying ordeal while walking back from The Blue last summer.
She told the News: “I noticed this man behind me because he was quite near – about a metre away.
“I thought I might get mugged… as I was approaching my block of flats he asked to see my eye colour and reached out to stroke my face.
“I walked into the block of flats but then realised he could just get in so I just ran!”
Despite her requests for a security door, Grace says the council has not obliged and her block remains open to intruders.
Grace said: “We have [people smoking] crack cocaine in our stairwell and it stinks… it’s not nice to see.”
Cllr Chamberlain said Grace is not alone in her predicament and that numerous estates have faulty security doors in urgent need of repair.
These include Prospect House, in the St Georges area, Vaughan House, in Borough and Bankside, and Bradley House, in Bermondsey. As of Friday, December 1, he said none of these had been repaired.
Cllr Darren Merrill, Cabinet Member for Council Homes and Homelessness, said: “We are currently developing a new asset management strategy, in consultation with residents, to be brought forward in the New Year.
“This will set out our investment plan and full programmes of work for all our council homes, with fire and building safety as a first priority.
“We are aware of the broken security doors at Prospect, Vaughan and Bradley House. Jobs have been raised for each of these blocks and will be attended to shortly.”