The council told a man they couldn’t clean a three-week-old ‘spit stain’ in his lift because it was “engrained” and the “relevant materials” were needed to remove it.
Armed with a soapy sponge, the exasperated resident resolved to tackle the gruesome globule himself, only to find it wiped off easily.
The council had been on the cusp of ordering special materials to “prevent scratching and damaging the lift panels when they are cleaning it”.
Nick Flower, Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (TRA) chair at Southampton Way Estate, Camberwell, first noticed the unsightly spittle on 25 November, and emailed the council asking to get it cleaned.
Two weeks later, after a second reminder email, the council replied: “I can confirm that our cleaning supervisor and officers have been monitoring its cleaning and advised that the ‘spit mark’ you are complaining about is actually engrained in the lift.
“I am further advised that in order to remove the stain you have shown they will have to use materials that may cause scratch marks to the lift.”
“The cleaning supervisor will be sourcing the relevant materials tomorrow and will arrange for the panel area to be cleaned.”
Expecting a tussle beyond even Mr. Muscle, Nick resolved to confront the blemish himself, and was flabbergasted to find it wiped off in seconds.
He wrote to the council: “Just to prove how ridiculous the assertions in your last email were, I went and cleaned off the spit myself, using a damp soapy sponge. It took less than five seconds to remove.
“The spit stain was not ‘engrained’ and did not require any specialist materials or equipment to be removed.
“Each time these concerns are treated as isolated incidents and we are fobbed off with excuses that the ‘supervisor’ will ‘have a look’, that there will be an ‘inspection’, that the situation is being ‘monitored’, blah blah blah.”
Cleaning at Southampton Way Estate has been a persistent bugbear for residents, with some having reportedly built up photo archives of dirty lifts and filthy communal areas.
Nick said to the council: “This is just an example used to illustrate the general state of affairs. The same situation applies across the whole estate.
“By allowing the standard of cleaning and hygiene to fall to such a low level un-challenged, your inaction and complacency is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of the hundreds of residents who live on our estate.
“None of this is rocket science. But it is serious.”
Southwark Council has been approached for comment.