Asbestos poisoning claims by residents in St Leonards housing block

Mary Hawk SUS-190327-140507001
Mary Hawk SUS-190327-140507001

Older residents in a sheltered accommodation complex in St Leonards claim they are being exposed to harmful asbestos.

People living at Wyvern House, Warrior Square, said the fibres had been released due to workmen installing a sprinkler system.

Dan Fullick, whose 76-year-old mother Mary Hawk lives at Wyvern House, said: “In May 2014, tenants received a letter warning them that there was asbestos in the building and that they would only be safe as long as the asbestos wasn’t disturbed.

“Due to the warnings about the asbestos, when the sprinkler advice came in, everyone was understandably shocked as this would disturb the building and spread toxic dust which is known to be carcinogenic.

“In December 2018, a meeting attended by both representatives of Places for People and Harmony Fire, a company contracted to install the new sprinkler system, my mother was told there was no need to worry about the dangers of asbestos because the asbestos wouldn’t be life-threatening for about 20 years, so it wouldn’t matter to her. This was a cruel and callous statement.

“We met with threats of enforcers and threats of eviction if any of the tenants refused entry to the builders, who would potentially poison them with carcinogenic asbestos.

“My mother was and remains in fear of the enforcers and eviction, and is afraid every time she tries to go out and has to pass through the positioned areas of the building.”

Mary said: “I’ve refused to let them in through fear of asbestos being released in my flat. There is a lady upstairs who is scared out of her wits of these people.”

A spokesman for Places for People said: “The safety of our customers is our number one priority, which is why we are installing sprinkler systems to improve wellbeing for residents at Wyvern House and in all our high-rise buildings.

“For the new sprinkler system to be effective, it needs to be installed in every home at Wyvern House, but residents do not need to move out during the installation. We have a robust Asbestos Management Policy, with no risk to residents during these works.

“We apologise if there has been any misunderstanding about our intentions and will continue to liaise closely with our customers during the course of these works.”

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