More than £300,000 of compensation has been paid out to council tenants and residents left for weeks without heating and hot water during Southwark’s ‘winter of discontent’.
In total, £334,666 has been paid out across the borough with the vast majority – around £319,000 – for frustrated Aylesbury and Wyndham Estate residents.
In the year to February 2019, council properties had, on average, eleven days where their hot water or heating, or both, were not working, described by the council itself as “far below an acceptable standard”.
Boilers on the Wyndham Estate in Camberwell are being rebuilt to the tune of half a million and a similar amount of cash has been ploughed into patching up the Aylesbury Estate in Walworth.
Cllr Kieron Williams, cabinet member for housing and modernisation at Tooley Street, said: “During the cold snap last winter we had significant issues with some of our older heating systems, particularly on two of our larger housing estates – Aylesbury and Wyndham.
“We always get these repaired as soon as possible but unfortunately these repairs took longer than normal due to the complex work needed.
“We are doing everything we can to try and make sure this doesn’t happen again including committing to a programme of investments for our heating systems.
“In the meantime we can only apologise for the inconvenience and offer compensation to those affected.”
Fixing its creaking communal boilers and making the network environmentally friendly, as part of a commitment to go carbon neutral by 2030, is increasingly seen as one of the council’s biggest logistical and financial challenges.
Currently serving 17,000 homes, the heating network is believed to require around £350 million over the next 40 years.