BY MAYA CHAVVAKULA
A family-of-three are being forced to live in a one-bed flat as town hall chiefs delay moving them into a bigger accommodation.
Southwark council promised to move Samantha Riches, of Fearnley House, on the Lettsom Estate in Camberwell to a bigger flat after a second intervention from the South London Press and Mercury, according to Ms Riches.
She is currently sleeping on a sofa bed in her living room, while her two children, Connie, aged 11 and Harrison, aged eight, share the bedroom.
Ms Riches said: “The council only wants to talk to me when the press is asking them questions.
“I need a three-bed flat but I’m living with just one bedroom.
“Southwark council placed me in Band 4 after telling me that my case qualifies to be in the priority list.
“This pretty much means that we won’t be moving to a bigger place at all. It’s the lowest band.
“Also, they started works on new kitchens and bathrooms last year. They came and asked me what tiles, colours, flooring etc that I wanted and that was the last I heard.
“Engie, the contractors carrying out the works, informed me that Southwark council requested them to stop all works but didn’t tell me for what reason.
“I’m starting to reach my wits’ end with it all to be honest, and feel like I can’t breathe in such a small accommodation.”
The council’s housing officer told Ms Riches that the work on her kitchen would start again in May, she claims, but that did not happen.
There have been no further talks to confirm the status of the improvement works in the flat.
Ms Riches who works full-time for an undertakers is also currently paying £525 per month for her one-bed accommodation.
Cllr Kieron Williams, cabinet member for housing management and modernisation, said: “I do feel for Ms Riches, to be living in her situation must be very difficult.
“We have provided as much support as we can to try to help her, including payment plan arrangement, benefit assessment and help for her to bid for a new home – as well as other options.
“However, we also have to ensure that the council’s housing priority and bidding system is fair for everyone.
“Sadly, there are people in an even greater need who will therefore have higher priority when bidding for council and housing association homes, which are in such high demand and short supply.
“We can’t guarantee that someone will get a new home, or in what timescale, so this is a misunderstanding.
“We will continue to support Ms Riches going forward and I sincerely hope she gets
somewhere she and her children can live more comfortably in the future.”