ANGRY residents have launched a battle against a ‘greedy’ housing association for ‘ignoring’ safety fears while hiking up fees.
Residents living at Southdown View, in Military Road, Hilsea, have been forced to endure months of woe, from security doors failing to lock, homeless people invading refuse areas, lifts breaking and rats infesting people’s homes.
On one occasion, a mother was forced to seek family help to feed her newborn child after the block’s water supply shut off for two days.
But this month residents were hit with the shock news that housing firm Vivid was hiking up its services charges by more than £100 – something which has infuriated those in the block.
Now almost 40 families have banded together in protest and signed a petition demanding action.
Kayleigh Morgan, 26, set up the campaign. She said: ‘It’s been a nightmare. The day I moved in there was a leak under my bath, my balcony light has never worked.
‘When I was in labour I had to walk down the stairs because the lift was broken - again.
‘And at one point the whole block had no hot or cold water and I couldn’t feed my newborn baby girl.
‘There are rats in the bin room which is disgusting and the security door doesn’t work.
‘Vivid is just ignoring all our concerns. They only care about money. I’m furious.’
In the past few weeks, people have been demanding Vivid repairs a security door on the ground floor - something which hasn’t happened.
Residents also claim concerns over a rat infestation in the refuse area - which has spread to flats on the ground floor - have been swept aside.
And the firm has come under fire for so far failing to deliver on its promise to replace cladding, deemed as unsafe during an inspection by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service following the Grenfell disaster, by the end of last year.
Some people living in the five-storey block have told The News they want to leave.
One 80-year-old woman, who asked not to be named, said: ‘When I bought this flat I thought it was going to be a home for life. But now I’m desperate to move out and I know there are others who feel exactly the same.
‘This whole thing is turning into a monumental disaster.
‘Vivid seems intent on raising the service charges every year. They think there’s a never-ending pot of money here - well there isn’t. People are going to struggle to afford this.’
Another resident, a 29-year-old man, added: ‘Vivid has been a disaster from start to finish. The way they are treating residents is appalling. They have absolutely no regard for our safety - we’re just the cash cows for a greedy, heartless corporation.’
Residents have contacted Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt and former city council leader, Donna Jones, for support.
Cllr Jones, who represents Hilsea Ward, pledged to write to environmental health about the issue as well as setting up a meeting with Vivid bosses.
Derek Streek, head of neighbourhoods at Vivid admitted the housing association had ‘underestimated’ the annual costs of boiler maintenance and daily repairs at Southdown View, which led to the increase in charges.
He said: ‘We’re working hard to resolve the issues for residents of Southdown View as soon as possible and understand it must be a frustrating situation.
‘A contractor’s due to attend the property to fix the security door this week. We have ongoing solutions in place to combat the issue with rats in the bin store. We’ve recently cleared and fumigated the bin store where there are rats and we have a plan with a pest control supplier to help eliminate the problem.
‘We will be replacing the external cladding and want to replace it with a safe and suitable solution. As we want to make sure we get this right, this is taking some time to identify.
‘We’ll provide an update once we have a solution that meets the latest standards and we’ll be covering the cost of this work.
‘In the meantime, we have ongoing safety controls in place, including a 24/7 watch to ensure communal areas remain clear of any hazards. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed that the building is safe to stay in with all the existing safety measures in place, now and whilst the cladding is removed.’