A DAD has slammed council landlords who he says are failing to keep his six-year-old son safe after the boy reached for a used drugs needle in the stairwell leading to his flat.

Stroud News and Journal:

Drug users were able to access the communal area of the flat after the council failed to fix the broken door

Wes Andrews, who owns a flat in Mathews Way, Paganhill, and has lived in the block owned by Stroud District Council for nearly two years, says that the shocking discovery is another example of the authority failing to fulfil the duty of care to those who live on the estate.

Stroud News and Journal:

Mr Andrews has recorded the extent of the rubbish problems which he then sends to the council appealing for their help

“My heart stopped when I saw what he was reaching to pick up,” Wes said. “Our front door won’t lock and so drug users have been using the communal space outside our flats to inject.”

Mr Andrews says that the used needles found at the beginning of March were just the latest in a long list of issues that those living in the flats have experienced, and that despite asking the council to take action his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“We’ve had ongoing problems with our rubbish and recycling – quite often the bags are piled up to the ceiling in communal areas, or the contents of ripped bags are spread all over the paths outside the property.

Stroud News and Journal:

In summer months maggots and even rats plague the communal areas which are over-run with rubbish

“Last summer I had to lift my little boy over maggots, and he often has to cover his mouth and nose because of the stink of rotting rubbish.”

Mr Andrews said that, after attempting to get the council to take action for several months, he was forced to clean up himself: “I bought a sharps bin for the users to safely dispose of their needles and I used bleach to try and disinfect the areas where the slime from rubbish had seeped into the concrete.

Stroud News and Journal:

Rubbish can go uncollected for weeks and maggots can be seen in shared areas of the building

"Then after promises were made of deep cleans and doors being fixed, I went down to the council offices and demanded answers.

“It was horrible, I lost my temper but this is my son’s life we’re talking about – no one should have to put up with this.

“Things are finally starting to happen now, after dozens of phone calls and emails, but what is infuriating is that this would never be thought of as acceptable if it was a private landlord – why is the council allowed to behave this way?”

A spokesman for the council insisted that the problems are only being experienced by a small number of people on the estate.

Stroud News and Journal:

The stench of rotten rubbish fills communal areas as putrid food seeps into the concrete

“Stroud District Council takes matters of this nature very seriously and will continue to work with the small number of residents who are unable to, or do not wish to engage with our waste and recycling regime,” the spokesman said.

“Last year we spent an additional £3,500 collecting contaminated waste in this area and we continue to work closely with residents who do not engage, to help them understand their responsibilities.

“We will clear needles but illegal drug use is a matter for police and we will continue to support them in dealing with this. A needle reported to us at 10am on Thursday, March 14 was collected by 4.30pm the same day.

Stroud News and Journal:

An hour after the council sent contractors to complete a 'deep clean' Mr Andrews discovered another used drug needle on the floor in front of his flat

“We have apologised for the delay in this instance, and have reviewed processes to ensure that we can respond more swiftly in future. This is the only report of a needle in this area since December 2018.

“On Friday, March 15 we arranged for the block to be cleaned with a complete clearance of refuse, on Tuesday, March 19.

“We are addressing recent damage to a main block door and will keep residents concerned informed as appropriate.”

The door into Mr Andrews' building has now been secured, but with that has come additional problems, he says.

Stroud News and Journal:

The door to the building has been broken for over three weeks, the council says it may take months to replace

“They put a big piece of metal over the door to stop people from getting in, but now the postman can’t get in - or even leave cards to say that he has tried to - so we’ve had no post for over a week,” he explained.

“Plus the intercom doesn’t work properly so we don’t even know when people are trying to access the building – would another property owner be allowed to get away with this?”

Paganhill Community Group, which was set up by residents of the estate to improve the area, runs a café and drop-in event every Friday from noon until 5pm at the Maypole Hall. The sessions are open to everyone and offer an opportunity to get support and advice in an informal setting.

Stroud News and Journal:

Fly-tipped rubbish can be seen in several spots aorund the estate