Frustrated residents of a Mitcham estate, pictured below, are fighting bills topping £22,000 each for major work they feel is unnecessary and too expensive, leaving their homes uninhabitable while work is underway.

Wimbledon Times:

Circle Housing Merton Priory (CHMP) plan to remove roofs and windows, remove asbestos and carry out major electrical work on the Watermeads Estate in Octavia Close, Mitcham.

The company has put work on hold after residents' concerns over consultation and the cost of work to their homes, some of which are privately owned.

Wimbledon Times:

Simon Edgell, a resident of Octavia Close

Work had been scheduled to start in January and residents were being asked to pay more than £30 a day for two years in order to fund the work.

They have commissioned their own independent report to get an alternative view on the costs.

In August, an independent investigation found CHMP contractors Keepmoat Property Services overcharged by more than £170,000 for repair work to properties run by CHMP since January 2013.

Fraud inquiry: Circle Housing Merton Priory overcharged £170,000 by Keepmoat for repairs to Merton homes

Simon Edgell, a resident of Octavia Close and member of the Watermeads Residents’ Association, said residents were informally consulted on the works over the summer, but no minutes were taken and leaseholders were split between two meetings.

He believes this was done to stifle dissent.

Mr Edgell says a neighbour who had their windows replaced a few years ago was charged £3,000.

He says residents are now being charged £7,500 for the same job.

Residents also fear flats will be left without electricity and water while work is carried out.

A spokesperson for CHMP said the company adhered to strict regulations ensuring costs were fairly priced.

Mr Edgell said: "We feel we’re being railroaded into this.

"Our main concerns are: Is this work necessary, are we being overcharged, and how can we pay this in time?"

Merton councillors for Ravensbury ward Peter McCabe, council leader Stephen Alambritis, and Phillip Jones met with CHMP representatives on Wednesday, December 16 to urge them to reassess the cost and necessity of the works.

Coun McCabe said: "It seems to me that they have every justification in their concerns.

"We feel aggrieved on behalf of our constituents and feel Circle should listen to them.

"We told Circle what was going on was unacceptable, that they need to think again and that they need to treat the residents better.

"If we can’t have a solution we will have further frank discussions."

Adrian Shaw, head of home ownership at Circle Housing said: "We are listening to residents and have put the works on hold while we have further talks about the proposals to make sure any charges are fair and reasonable.

"We are committed to working with the homeowners to reach agreement on maintaining the properties and are holding another meeting in the New Year to share the findings of an independent survey of the roof and discuss next steps."

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