How Does a Social Housing Estate Work in Herts County Council?

I would like to know what Watford Community Housing Trust, who are a co-op, are doing about all the complaints they have received about the enforced housing development and the parking? Especially the lack of health & safety regarding traffic flow and parking on the Meriden Estate.

Munden View and Abbey View towers don’t look great from the outside but the flats are lovely. Ideal for me as there is no garden to be maintained, a rubbish chute, community central heating and dedicated parking outside. I love my flat but there are a few problems with the management.

They have disabled parking at the front. I am able to park and roll. I can wheel over the car park, through the electronic doors, into either of the two, newly refurbished, lifts and up to my floor. It’s all one level. It has a great view over Watford Mirror Print building, the GP surgery and I can see up to the Harry Potter Studio at Leavesden.

At the front of my tower block is a disabled space. Everyone parks in it, usually it isn’t a problem. Only over the past few months it has become a problem because of all the workmen using the parking and the increased housing stock. Residents and visitors must use the disabled bays as there isn’t enough parking, especially at the front of the towers.

The parking was adequate for blocks built in the 1960s when most occupants didn’t own cars. The 180 flats have just eleven spaces allocated at the front of the block.

There is also a yellow crossed ambulance bay – the one at the front is continually blocked by needy families or disabled people. Taxi drivers drive into the only available access and wait. They are waiting for residents who need them but just one car takes up the only assessible area.

A resident, desperate to get an ambulance to get to her sick Dad was trying to move the taxi. This causes friction. The issue is that the road was blocked so easily by one taxi. The waiting ambulance then started causing traffic problems down Garsmouth Way. This has major road works on which the residents already have reason to be unhappy about.

I often park around the back as there is no space at the front. It is security detailed by ramp gates and key fobs. I discovered I couldn’t get out of the car park because the exit ramp was broken and I had to just go back home. I called Watford Community Housing Trust.

The customer services assistant told me to use the entrance ramp but to ‘be careful’– I didn’t bother telling her I was disabled and unable to move that fast.  I felt she had given very poor advice for anyone. Ideally the entrance ramp should be left down if the exit ramp is broken. WCHT were considerate to then send me a text informing me that the ramp was broken.

When I tried to complain to the council about the disabled parking and ambulance spaces not being enforced, I was told that it’s WCHT land and their responsibility.  I spoke to the local councillor for the ward and was told that they’ve sent over eighty emails to WCHT regarding the parking for the towers and, also, about the lights around the estate.

Disabled people are protected under UN convention under Anti-Discrimination and Equality Laws. These laws state that any organisation over fifteen people must provide access to facilities and services for certain protected group, including tenants.

The UK ratified this treaty before EU law and as such sits within The Equality Act 2010 in UK law. It gives rights, in law, to certain groups. They are known as protected groups.

Disabled people are one of these groups. As such they are to be given assistance in achieving equality. Funding is allocated accordingly by Governments and Local Authorities. Feedback is supposed to be gathered for any services they provide.

I feel that Watford Borough Council should take it’s responsibility towards disabled people more seriously and uphold the law. We have a right to proper unrestrictive access our homes whether that is in social housing or private. We also have a right to give our feedback so services can be directed correctly towards those in need.

It appears to me that some simple changes could make a huge difference to traffic flow and parking on the estate. The towers surely must come under some consideration with its positioning between the M1 and M41 and having just one small access road. If an incident were to happen how would emergency services get to the location?

I would request a visit from the Health and Safety executive and the Highways Agency and their input on the access and parking situation. With special attention to disabled access and the ambulance bay.

As a last request could you explain to me why, when you do enforce a disabled parking bay with a ticket, in other parts of the borough, it’s only a £20 fine rather than the usual £60? This hardly sends the right message.

Yours sincerely,

Samantha Harris

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