A disabled Sutton woman said she has to slide down the stairs on her bottom to exit her home because a stairlift that took a year to install is ‘unusable’.

Tara Kerridge said she’s been ‘going round and round in circles’ with her housing association, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), trying to get them to ensure her home, on the Roundshaw estate, is accessible.

The mum-of-two has cerebral palsy and when she suffered an accident in her home in February, not only could the stairlift not be used to get her out, it blocked access to the stretcher being used by paramedics who she says even considered taking out a window to get her in the ambulance.

Tara told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) it takes her up to 30 minutes to get out of her home.

She said: “They’ve let me down big time. I can’t even use the stairlift they installed because the way my stairs go around, means it is too close to the banister.

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"I can’t bend my knees far enough back to get my feet out the way, so it’s either I get my feet stuck, or I walk down my stairs, which I can’t do either, so I have to slide down on my bum.”

Tara moved to Roundshaw, which sits between Wallington in Sutton and Purley in Croydon, in July 2022 after escaping domestic violence in her native Yorkshire.

Tara says she was promised a house that would be fully accessible and suitable for her needs.

However, upon arriving, Tara found that the vital stairlift she was promised had not been installed.

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When MTVH installed the stairlift around a year later, Tara was excited at how it might transform her day-to-day life, but she quickly realised she couldn’t use it.

She said: “I’m just going round and round in circles, I just want to be somewhere on the estate that I can actually use and get into safely.”

Currently, Tara must rely on the support of her neighbours and her five and six-year-old children for support around the house.

Fellow Roundshaw resident and local business owner, Shen Mehmet Inalpolat, has aided by providing her own mobility scooter for Tara, which she has named Tallulah.

Your Local Guardian: Shen Mehmet InalpolatShen Mehmet Inalpolat (Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Tara added: “The area is brilliant and the people are brilliant, it’s just my housing situation.

"The only reason I’ve been able to get out today is because I’ve got help to get down the stairs and to help me when I’m out.

“What makes it worse is that I didn’t have a legal tenancy from July to October 2022 because they didn’t do the mutual exchange properly, they then put me in rent arrears and they expect me to pay it off even though it’s their fault.”

She accused MTVH of having ‘no empathy whatsoever’.

Tara is not the only Roundshaw resident concerned about the quality of service provided by MTVH since they took over as Roundshaw’s official housing association.

Swathes of residents gathered in Roundshaw’s Phoenix Centre last week to tell the LDRS of their issues.

A couple who had lived on the estate for years claimed they had also been incorrectly billed by MTVH, and subsequently placed in rent arrears.

They told the LDRS: “They collected rent at twice the inflated rate. There is a third party who manages the direct debits, their mistake has put me in minor rent arrears for over three years.

"It makes me laugh, they’re quiet when we go to them for repairs but as soon as we fall behind in rent they spam our phones with notifications.”

One mother, who has lived on the estate her whole life, told the LDRS: “There’s so many middlemen, there’s so many people to go through, when we say to them ‘look we’re paying rent to be here’.

“I know it’s council property, I know it’s social housing so they’re not going to be fabulous houses but still we deserve to be able to sleep in a house where there’s no gaps in windows and we’re not freezing to death.”

The Roundshaw estate was built on the site of the old Croydon Airport in 1967.

The area was initially dominated by brutalist high-rise flats, notorious for attracting the kind of antisocial behaviour that became synonymous with the area.

While a regeneration in 2000 did much to change the quality of some of the housing and improve the reputation, residents believe the quality of some of the housing on the estate is still a cause for concern.

Several residents spoke of their frustration with delayed repair jobs for everything from heating and plumbing to installation and decorating.

While these jobs are meant to be triaged according to urgency, many spoke of long delays to even the most essential works.

One person said: “We had a lighting issue that we deemed an emergency, this usually means they are obliged to respond in four hours. They eventually came the following week.”

Another resident, who works in housing, claimed miscommunication between MTVH and the local authority is leading to confusion around what needs to be fixed on the estate.

He said: “I was looking for the title deeds to determine who was responsible for what, because there is lots of damage to roads and pathways.

“This is especially the case on Barnard Close, where the road is sinking and cars have been damaged as a result. The issue has been reported to both MTVH and Sutton Council, and they both said they had fixed the issue but they hadn’t.”

Earlier this year, MTVH’s long-serving CEO Geeta Nanda announced she would be stepping down in the Autumn. Sutton’s MP Elliot Colburn, who regularly undertakes casework on the estate, has called for the incoming CEO to address these issues and reassure residents.

He told the LDRS: “Roundshaw residents are frequently having to raise MTVH service failings with me. Essential repairs and maintenance have been left for months, even years in some cases, with poor communication and even lack of empathy often cited by residents who contact me, who are then expected to stump up inflated service charges and other costs.

“Having met with MTVH to express these concerns, I urge their new CEO to embark on a deep-dive of customer repair handling in the organisation, ensure a fully operational repairs desk is permanently located at the Roundshaw office and set up regular resident meetings to re-build trust.”

A spokesperson for MTVH said: “This has clearly been a distressing time for Ms Kerridge. The issues she has experienced with her stairlift have been profoundly upsetting and have caused her significant inconvenience.

"That residents are comfortable and safe in their homes is our absolute priority and as soon as we were made aware of this situation, we contacted the occupational therapist at Sutton Council asking that this situation is addressed as a matter of urgency.

"We will remain in contact with Ms Kerridge and will continue to support her whilst the issues with the stairlift are being resolved.”

The spokesperson added that MTVH takes ‘all repairs raised with us extremely seriously’.

They said Roundshaw’s estate office is open five days a week, with residents able to either walk in or book an appointment, and its housing and property teams hold monthly meetings at the local leisure centre.

Phone lines are open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday with emergency support available 24 hours a day, with a free call back feature, they said.

They added: “Where a repair is raised as an emergency, we aim to carry these out within 24 hours and our records show that we are consistently meeting this timeframe at Roundshaw.”

They urged residents to contact them with any concerns, adding that they are working with Sutton Council to adopt all the roads on the estate. This would make it easier to carry out road and street light repairs quickly.

In September 2023 Eagle Close at Roundshaw was adopted by MTVH with the housing association saying it has invested around £110,000 in repairs to road surfacing, kerb stones, and lighting.

A spokesperson for Sutton Council said while MTVH is responsible for housing issues on the estate, residents can report concerns to the council via the ‘Report It’ function on its website.