REPULSED residents at a city tower block infested with cockroaches have told how they would rather be ‘homeless’ than live in their flats.
Dozens of outraged families in Leamington House in Somers Town, have complained to Portsmouth City Council about the sickening state of their tower block.
For months, people living in the 18-storey complex have had to deal with the insects invading their homes, with more than 50 flats reporting problems with the bugs.
The council says it has plans in place to tackle the infestation and that it has already taken action at every property affected.
But council tenant Colin Taylor, who has lived in the Earlsdon Street block for 17 years, said the cockroach problem is so bad it is affecting his health.
The unemployed 52-year-old said: ‘The place is like a slum. I feel like a prisoner in my own home.
‘I can’t keep living like this. I can’t sleep, I have woken up and there have been cockroaches crawling everywhere in my bed – one was even on my lip.
‘I’ve lost two stone because I can’t eat any food.
‘I’m getting to the point now where I will feel better just being homeless and just giving up on my flat. Last week I went out and just slept on the beach to get away.
‘My health is suffering, my friends are concerned because I have lost so much weight. It’s just a nightmare.’
To counter the bugs, the council has placed a variety of traps in people’s homes.
But the authority said it will now be launching a new measure to tackle the entire building, which has 136 flats in it.
The news comes after the site was revealed to be one of the tower blocks in the city to have failed fire safety checks on its cladding, which is now being replaced.
Councillor Rob Wood, Liberal Democrat representative for St Thomas ward, said the situation was unacceptable.
He said this was a problem that had not been an issue at the tower block but felt that a combination of a hot early summer and the cladding work could have had an impact.
Cllr Wood said: ‘This is a bad state of affairs. I think anybody who has got young family there or old family there is worried about cockroaches going round.
‘As far as the city is concerned there is a limit as to what they can do. At the end of the day this is about making sure that the city council acts with haste and respect to how tenants are feeling.
‘The residents have had a tough time. It’s unfortunate that at the same time we have had work to improve the cladding.
‘The bottom line is the city council needs to pulls its finger out as much as possible to make a bad situation better.’
A spokesman for the council added: ‘Over the past year we’ve had calls about suspected cockroach problems at 54 flats in Leamington House. We visited each property and took appropriate action.
‘At the moment we’re dealing with problems at four more flats.
‘We understand residents’ concerns, so the next step will be to tackle the whole building, which contains 136 flats.
‘We’ll place gel in strategic locations that is toxic to cockroaches once eaten but harmless to people. We’ll also lay non-toxic sticky monitoring traps that will help us understand the scale of the problem.
‘We’ll tell residents what we’re planning and hope to start the operation by the end of the month.’