Families living in a Margate block of flats say they do not feel safe in their own homes after being subjected to almost two years of antisocial behaviour, constant noise, drug deals and violence due to a ‘drugs den’ in the property.
A catalogue of complaints have been made to police and housing association Riverside but families in Burlington Place say there has been little help.
One dad, who asked not to be identified due to fear of retaliation, said: “At the moment the front door is broken and anyone can wander in so we have lots of drug users coming in, getting their drugs, and nothing gets done about it.
“The majority of people living here are families with children and it puts an enormous strain on everyone. There is drug paraphernalia in the stairwells, people buzzing us at night to get in to the drugs den.
“It has come to the point where my partner doesn’t sleep and we think she is depressed. It has a knock-on effect, the noise goes on all night and we don’t sleep and then have to get up for work. My young child isn’t getting enough sleep and it is affecting their education.
“We are trying to get out but the problem we face is rising property rents so we are just stuck here. It has a negative effect.”
Numerous incidents reported
In February, The Isle of Thanet News shared the story of a mum in the block who said her young daughter was frightened to come home from school because of youths causing damage inside, taking drugs on the communal stairs and abusing and threatening residents. Families say this problem persists.
Residents have also reported numerous incidents of criminal damage, violent rows, drugs deals and intimidation to both police and Riverside. Many have been asked to keep logs detailing disturbances. Police are called out frequently, with a violent incident taking place just last week.
‘Police called once a week’
The dad said: “The man was shouting that he had been stabbed (on June 12) and my child hears all this. I don’t want them going to school and saying someone was stabbed where we live.
“The police attended the scene and removed a female and also took away the man. They stayed on the scene for almost four hours conducting searches and removing items.
“Criminal damage, violence, drugs and intimidation have been brought to the doorstep of people’s homes. There have been threats of violence and bullying towards tenants, forcing one young mum and her daughter to find alternative accommodation.
“The police have been called on average once a week for the last 18-24 months but nothing is done. Nobody wants to take responsibility with all agencies pointing the figure at each other. While this happens, tenants with small children that want to carry on with daily life have to witness this behaviour.
“We do not feel safe in our homes. We feel there has been no support and even though we were told there has been an eviction notice we are now told it has been appealed.
“They all say they are working with other agencies but in reality there has been no progress.”
‘Taking the matter very seriously’
A spokesperson for Riverside said: “We are fully committed to dealing firmly and fairly with acts of crime and anti-social behaviour, working alongside our partners such as the police and local council to solve any issues as quickly as possible.
“We understand residents’ concerns following a number of incidents at Burlington Place, our mixed tenure site in Margate. We would like to reassure residents that we are taking the matter very seriously.
“At Riverside, possession actions are always taken as a last resort. Where allegations of criminal activity or anti-social behaviour are proved, we will take action so that our customers can live happily and safely in their homes.
“We are working with the police to support with their ongoing investigations and ask customers to continue contacting us should they have any concerns, but to please call 999 in the event of an emergency.”
Thanet District Commander at Kent Police, Chief Inspector Ian Swallow said: “On the evening of Monday 12 June, our officers were called to a reported assault at a property in Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville.
“A man was taken to hospital with a cut to his hand and a 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assault. She has since been bailed and an investigation to establish the full circumstances is ongoing.
“Officers from our Neighbourhood Task Force and Beat Team will also be looking at reports of anti-social behaviour in the area and will take proportionate action if required.
“Kent Police takes anti-social behaviour very seriously and we continue to work with partner agencies to tackle the issue, often using court orders or house closures at locations of persistent concern.
“I urge anyone who is worried about anti-social behaviour in their area to report it through the Kent Police website, or by calling 999 if a crime is in progress, so we have the best possible information available to us.”