The cost of the controversial security fence and guards surrounding parts of the Aylesbury estate has so far come to over £600,000, Southwark Council has revealed.
When the metal barriers went up around semi-derelict blocks of the Walworth estate in March and were manned by 24-hour security guards, residents told the News it was like living in Alcatraz.
The residents had raised safety fears with the council as some of their walkways were not lit at night, attracting crime, anti-social behaviour and squatters.
But when they were stopped from entering the gates nearest to their homes and forced to walk all the way around to a different entrance with their shopping, residents said the heavily guarded fortress was not what they had in mind.
At a meeting of the full council assembly on Wednesday night last week it was revealed that the security guards posted around the estate had so far cost Southwark £465,000 and the fences (and their repair after protestors ripped them down in April) cost £150,000, meaning a total of £615,000 has been spent securing the estate to date.
“This expenditure was necessary to address community safety concerns as the blocks are largely empty,” Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, Mark Williams, said in reply to a question posed by Lib Dem councillor, Lisa Rajan.
After campaigners opposed to the demolition of the estate occupied some of the empty properties in April, Cllr Williams said further expenditure was necessary “due to the nature and extent of occupation as well as the scale of securing this large site.”
Following complaints from residents about gaining access to their own homes, the council carried out a ‘security review’, which it says is still ongoing. Meanwhile the gate in Westmoreland Road remains the only way to get in to the estate, while residents can exit by a number of gates nearer to their homes.