Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Call for 24/7 tower block guards
CALLS have been made for 24-hour security for four notorious Southend town centre tower blocks in a bid to stop drunks, drug addicts and homeless people getting in.
The call from tenants of the Quantock, Malvern, Chichester and Pennine flats comes after an Echo investigation exposed security lapses with entrance doors at all the blocks and evidence of heroin being injected in the stairwells.
An Echo reporter was able to get inside all four tower blocks due to faulty locks which are only supposed to open with an electronic key fob.
Inside the Pennine flats there was a man on the 13th floor who said he had spent the night there as he was homeless.
When he left, there was a discarded syringe and pools of blood and urine.
Tenants and former tenants also condemned South Essex Homes, which manages the blocks for Southend Council, and the authority for failing to do more, amid claims these problems have plagued the flats for more than a decade.
They took to Facebook and the Echo website to vent their frustration.
Steph Memczak said: “So, South Essex Homes never actually did what it said it would then. It said, back in 2011 I think, it would trial various schemes to improve this and still nothing. I am not surprised.”
Jo Cheesman said: “The money they can save on repairs from the homeless and mess the drug takers leave could pay for 24-hour security guards.”
Brian Woodham added: “We need 24/7 security guards and better management.
“As regards paying for it, the council needs to review the way it spends the budget.
“A new library was nice to have. Secure and quality housing is a must. Doesn’t take too much working out does it?”
However, the council and South Essex Homes are satisfied CCTV is enough after repairing the lock faults exposed by our investigation.
A South Essex Homes spokeswoman said: “The buildings and the surrounding area are already monitored 24/7 by CCTV, which was upgraded in 2012 to utilise the latest digital technology.
“We can confirmwe inspected all the entrance doors to the tower blocks and all necessary repairs were undertaken.”
A council spokesman added: “We are considering a range of options regarding the town centre tower blocks, as well as their associated financial implications.
“Given their collective size with some 420 individual households, it’s not a simple procedure in terms of the logistics involved and will take some time “We want to make sure anything we might do in the future is right for the town and best for the tenants.”