The Seven Towers Residents Group Goes from Strength to Strength

Proposed £7m PVC Cladding

Highlighting the exclusion of residents from the decision to ‘clad’ the Seven Towers in PVC, in December 2010 the residents’ group, accompanied by Santa Claus, presented 115 signed post-cards for Minister for Social Development to officers from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. The residents were asking the Minister to ‘halt’ the proposal until a way forward which was capable of progressing their housing rights was developed with resident participation. The residents’ action received coverage on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Ulster programme.

The group continue to use Freedom of Information requests to retrieve important information on the proposed PVC cladding proposal which the Department for Social Development and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive have failed to willingly provide.

Re-housing of Families with Young Children

Working with residents recently the North Belfast News and BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback covered the story of a young family living in Cú Chulainn House for five years. Despite the commitment to re-house families with young children, this family have had to wait an extraordinary time on the social housing waiting list. Their condition has been made worse by the levels of dampness and low temperatures in the flat, and a series of incidents relating to noise and general disturbances by neighbours. The group continues to assert the collective rights of residents and provide individual support where required. 

Six Month Monitoring of Housing Rights Indicators and Benchmarks

The early months of 2011 have been busy with all activists hitting the ground conducting surveys into heating and damp related problems, and how the Housing Executive is performing in terms of addressing residents’ housing problems. Initial results are shocking, with a large portion of residents dealing with sub-standard heating and unacceptable damp manifesting on the walls and windows throughout the blocks. The surveys and outreach to residents has also shown up many other problems.

Development of the Seven Towers Residents’ Group

The group will shortly be presenting its Six Month Monitoring Report on all indicators and provide a comprehensive response to the proposed cladding scheme. Additionally, the International Panel which was convened at the June 2010 The Right to Housing: A People’s Inquiry will publish their findings within the next two months.

As a result of the activity over the last two months, and the significant organising initiatives with other residents, new residents have joined the group. With a mixture of the energy from the new residents and the experience of long standing members of the group, 2011 is already looking like a good year for organising on housing rights in north Belfast.