Merton Council member for housing faces call to step down over mouse infestations and damp

By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter

Merton Council’s housing boss has resisted calls to stand down after shocking living conditions were exposed on the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham.

Mouse infestations and serious damp are just some of the problems residents have been facing. The estate is managed by Clarion Housing on behalf of Merton Council and is earmarked for regeneration.

At a council meeting on Wednesday opposition councillors repeatedly asked whether councillor Martin Whelton, the cabinet member for housing, would resign from his post.

In a written response, Whelton said: “I absolutely reject the suggestion that I should be resigning regarding this matter, as I have worked tirelessly as cabinet member to improve the housing conditions and choices of our residents .

“I can offer my assurances that I will seek to improve the housing conditions on the Eastfields Estate by approaching the matter with Clarion with the same degree of commitment and tenacity that I have used in other housing matters.”

But at the meeting, councillor Nick McLean turned the question on council leader Mark Allison, asking whether Whelton would be sacked.

He said: “Cllr Allison still seeks to blame others, does he not realise how ridiculous he sounds.

“I ask him to show some respect for the residents of Eastfields and fire the cabinet member responsible.”

But the council leader defended Merton’s housing boss and thanked him for his work in the department.

The council leader said: “After 11 years of Tory-led government we have had so many problems with housing but my cabinet member is not one.

“I would like to thank him for doing as much as he has done as a result of his work Merton has the lowest number of people living in temporary accommodation anywhere in London.

“This doesn’t happen by accident, this is thanks to the hard work and passion of people like the cabinet member responsible.

“I hope members will thank cllr Whelton for his hard work and lay the blame where it belongs—with the government of this country for failing people on housing for too long.”

Pictured: Merton Council leader Mark Allison defended cabinet member for homes Martin Whelton at meeting this week. Credit: Merton Council. 

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