There are fears the circumstances behind the tragic death of a two-year-old boy could be repeated locally if more is not done to make homes safer.
The death of Awaab Ishak in 2020 in Rochdale has caused national headlines after a coroner recently concluded he died from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to mould.
A petition calling for a new law to prevent any more children dying from damp and mouldy social housing has reached more than 100,000 signatures in just a week.
In light of the coroner’s ruling, a Labour councillor at Hertsmere Borough Council submitted an urgent motion to be discussed at a full council meeting tonight (November 23).
It called for the council to take “urgent action to address the unacceptable living conditions that many of our residents are also suffering”.
But the motion will not be on the agenda because it arrived “one hour and 25 minutes too late”.
Proposer and Borehamwood councillor Michelle Vince said: “I wanted to cry when I found out this couldn’t be heard.
“I personally know of people such as a young woman with four children in a one-bed flat in Borehamwood where there is mould, and a family with a 10-week-old baby in Bushey that have come to me in desperation after coming home from hospital to mould.”
She continued: “Our council must ensure it does everything it can to make sure this doesn’t happen here, such as ordering landlords and housing associations to deal with issues.
“This is bigger than council procedures and waiting until January’s meeting is putting people at risk. We must ensure people who have damp and mould in their homes are having their voices listened to.”
The council’s managing director said the council has “strict” protocols and deadlines for meetings.
Acknowledging the meaning behind the motion, Sajida Bijle continued: “I’d firstly like to reassure our communities, who will rightly be concerned about the recent distressing case in Rochdale, that we take a robust stance on enforcing housing standards in our borough.
“We work hard to ensure our residents have safe and comfortable accommodation to live in.”
She said the council can take criminal action against landlords and urged residents with concerns to contact the housing enforcement team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 8207 2277.
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