Residents want housing firm to get a move on

18/12/14- Marlborough House, St Leonards. SUS-141218-131208001

18/12/14- Marlborough House, St Leonards. SUS-141218-131208001

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Residents of a building damaged by fire nearly two years ago say they are fed up with being fobbed off with excuses about refurbishment delays and want their homes back.

The roof of Marlborough House, Warrior Square was gutted by fire on July 28, 2013. The building suffered extensive water damage as firefighters battled to contain the blaze (which stared on the sixth floor) and prevent it from spreading to adjoining properties.

Marlborough house contains 40 sheltered accommodation flats; home to elderly and disabled people. Owned by The Hyde Group, it also contains a pharmacy and two GP surgeries. After the fire residents were found alternative temporary accommodation at various locations around the local area.

At a meeting on December 8, 2014, residents were devastated to hear that they would not be able to return to their homes until the spring of 2016. They were also advised that no contractors had yet been instructed to carry out the refurbishment repairs and they would be kept informed of progress with regular meetings. However, Coral Pritchett, secretary of the Marlborough House Residents Association said that hasn’t happened. She said: “The delays just go on and on. In December we were told that there would be a meeting at the end of February, now we are told it will be April. It’s just the same excuses repeated over and over and it sounds like they are still going through the bidding process and it doesn’t appear that a contractor has been appointed yet!”

The roof was repaired some time ago, but internally substantial water damage resulted in extensive mould. Coral says that the mould was dealt with but with the building lying empty for so long with no ventilation or heating it has returned. She added: “We wish they’d get a move on. All we want is to get back into our flats. One resident is so angry with all the delays that he has suggested we consider taking legal action.”

Following the fire residents were told that refurbishment works would be completed within a year; subsequently revised to August 2014. Many residents have complained that the alternative accommodation provided by The Hyde Group and East Sussex Social Services (ESSS) is not appropriate for their needs.

Chyrel Brown, resident services director (regions), The Hyde Group, said: “Residents requested that the next meeting should be organised once we had entered into the contract for the refurbishment. We have been reviewing tenders for the work and it is still very much our intention to enter into contract in early April. We will let the residents know as soon as we can and organise a meeting for late April.

“Hyde is working in close partnership with ESSS to ensure residents are appropriately housed whilst waiting to move back into Marlborough House. In the majority of cases Hyde is paying for this temporary accommodation. We remain in touch with individual residents to provide advice and support as needed.”