21
Aug
2005

Phone masts blamed over roof leaks

Aug 19 2005

Slough Express

By Daniel Lyons Slough Reporter

FURIOUS tower block residents who have suffered leaky ceilings for months blame the problem on heavy phone masts on the roof.

And they claim they have been left with the repair bill while Town Hall bosses have cashed in on contracts with telecommunication firms.

Tenants and leaseholders at Poplar House - one of two 'Faulty Towers' in Langley featured in the Express in the last two weeks - raised the problem at a residents' meeting in May.

Keith Garner, a leaseholder of a ground floor flat at Poplar, is being asked to contribute more than £30,000 to the huge £4million refurbishment work at Poplar and neighbouring Broom House.

He said: "It is totally immoral to charge leaseholders for the repair of the roof, when the council receives such a large annual income for that facility.

"This is a stealth tax at best and pure banditry at worst."

The decay has become so bad that one top-floor ceiling collapsed under the weight of the water.

Council officials told residents that old age was the root cause of the roof's decay.

But tenants and leaseholders claim the heavy equipment and frequent visits by service staff have contributed to its poor state.

Contractors Dew Pitchmastic estimated in August last year it would cost more than £78,000 to repair the entire roof. This figure was reduced to £54,000 in December.

Slough Borough Council refused to confirm the number of masts housed at Poplar, although residents claim dozens are visible from the street.

They say the roof at Broom - which does not house as many masts - has not had the same wear and tear.

The minutes of the residents' meeting show two new telecommunication cabins were added to the existing one after the original works survey was done 18 months ago.

However, a council spokeswoman denied it was cashing in on rents, saying it receives just £23,000 annual income from both Poplar and Broom.

She added: "The contracts with the phone companies are strictly controlled so if they caused damage they would have to repair it."

Residents also raised concern over potential health hazards and diminishing property prices. These claims have been dismissed by the council.
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