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Council apologises after News highlights heating failures which left residents on Bermondsey estate in the cold for months

Southwark Council has today apologised to residents of a Bermondsey estate after the News highlighted how they had been left in the cold for months.

Fed-up tenants on the Rouel Road estate had been suffering with heating problems since October 1, forcing pensioners to wear coats indoors, even over Christmas.

Last week, their story formed part of our front page, as we highlighted how the unreliable district heating system is leaving tenants freezing in the winter.

Now the council’s estates boss, Cllr Leo Pollak, has apologised to the residents – and vowed officials were taking action to fix the problem.

“We are very sorry about the heating system issues that residents at Rouel Road estate have faced and understand well how difficult the unreliable heating system has been since the Autumn, particularly in cold weather and during lockdown,” he said. 

“Our heating engineers have been working round the clock making inspections and repairs and we have regular meetings with all contractors consultants and engineers to systematically assess recurring issues and solutions.”

Residents had told us that they had racked up costly bills using fan heaters in a bid to keep warm, while others complained of being fobbed off when attempting to contact the council.

Our story in last week’s issue of the paper

Bosses at the town hall pledged no-one should be left out of pocket as a result of heating failures.

“We will continue to make sure older and vulnerable residents are receiving outbound calls and additional support, and that we get fan heaters immediately to anyone who’s requested them,” added Cllr Pollak.

“The council is also committed that no one should be out of pocket if their heating is down, or have uncertainty with electricity costs about using a fan heater. 

“In addition to automatically reimbursing residents’ rent accounts for loss of heating, our renewed compensation policy will also be offering a direct and automated £3/day flat rate for the inconvenience and any additional costs incurred.”

Cllr Leo Pollak

The News has also highlighted other cases of district heating failures on Southwark’s creaking estates in recent weeks, including in Camberwell’s Dighton Court.

One resident of the estate said she had been forced to heat her flat with an open oven on Christmas Day.



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