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East London estate so overrun with mice and cockroaches resident wipes droppings off her kitchen counter every morning

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Kirsty Barker grew up on Exmouth Estate alongside her mother Marianne but the place she once called home is now virtually unrecognisable as she says residents are faced with a constant battle with mice and cockroaches. Residents also told MyLondon they have to deal with flooding and sewage leakages, far removed from the once vibrant East London community which Kirsty remembers from her childhood.

Those who have lived there for several decades say they have seen their once cherished estate turn to ruin. Kirsty, now 32-years-old, has decided to take it into her own hands to challenge Swan Housing Association who she believes have neglected tenants’ needs having watched her 67-year-old mother’s mental health decline and clumps of her hair fall out due to stress.

The estate was once run by Tower Hamlets council but was taken over by Swan Housing Association in 2006. Graphic images of dead mice, cockroaches, exposed wires, flooding and sewage paint an image of the estate which seems worlds apart from the safe community haven Kirsty grew up in.

READ MORE: London estate in town with £1.5m homes leaks so badly stairs are like waterfall

Kirsty Barker is determined that problems on the estate she grew up on are fixed

Marianne and some of her friends and neighbours, who have lived together on the estate for over thirty years, have finally had enough of the conditions they are expected to live in and Kirsty is dedicated to creating positive change on the Stepney based estate.

One neighbour, Jackie Clarke, 49, told MyLondon that before entering a room she has to turn on the light to check if there’s anything scurrying on the floor and before she can even make breakfast in the morning she has to wipe mouse droppings off her kitchen counter.

She said: “They tell us that no one else has been moaning but us, we thought that we were the only ones complaining. I was knocking on people’s doors asking if they had mice and they’d say yes, so it’s not just us facing the infestation.

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Kirsty says her mum Marianne is so stressed about the state of the disrepair she has clumps of hair fall out

“I can’t stand it anymore. At one point I was going down the pound shop every day buying gloves, mice traps and disinfectant to get the smell out and then by the next morning it went back to how it was before.

“I prefer the mice to the cockroaches, though, because at least I can see them crawling.”

Elaine Quirk, who has lived on the estate with her husband for more than 35 years, told MyLondon that Exmouth Estate was once a sought after location: “People fought for a place on Exmouth Estate 40 years ago, now they’re fighting to leave.”

The estate Kirsty remembers was a safe and caring community with clean communal spaces for children to play in whilst parents looked on and residents would look out for one another.

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Resident who have lived on the estate for 40 years are now fighting to leave

Home to a mix of elderly people and young families the worrying health implications from the vermin and sewage issues on the estate have put a strain on residents who have complained to the housing association for their issues to be resolved.

Kirsty, 32, told MyLondon: “The sad truth is that Swan Housing are careless and neglectful in all matters relating to their housing. The Exmouth Estate is slovenly and dilapidated. It currently houses over 200 people, but the environment and properties are left in squalor due to neglect and lack of care.

“Residents of Exmouth Estate have been left to live in degrading and unsafe conditions ranging from vermin infestations spanning over a 4 year period, missed asbestos through regeneration works, issues with plumbing leading to severe flooding along with sewage pouring out of toilets and kitchen sinks and the list goes on.”

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A mice Kirsty found in her mother’s bathroom

Elaine, who lives in the block opposite Marianne, continued: “You go onto the landings and there’s mouse boxes everywhere, but then they tell us there’s not a problem, well if there’s not a problem then what are they there for? On this estate it feels like fighting a losing battle. They just don’t want to listen to us.

“I’ve got cockroaches coming up through the sink. I normally have to put my stopper in a sink at night to stop them from getting into the flat, no matter how many times you try and get rid of them they keep coming back.”

Denise Bailey, who has lived on the estate for 40 years and was diagnosed with pneumonia last year, told MyLondon: “I’ve been struggling with vermin for four years now, at one point I was going into hospital for a hip replacement and needed a hole filling in where mice were getting through. I told them I needed it doing before I got back from the operation as I wouldn’t be able to do anything about whilst recovering and couldn’t be chasing mice around the room.

“One of them came and said ‘I can’t fix it, I can’t get in that gap’, so he left me a can of filler and said that I could do it myself.”

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Kirsty says that in another incident, someone from Swan turned up to someone’s home and demanded £3 of outstanding rent

Kirsty also claims that in one shocking instance, used condoms were discarded on the floor after people were having sex on the stairwell.

Kirsty added: “They’ve consistently let people down over the years, even if you take a a walk around the estate it’s just disgusting, it’s in disarray – there’s a young mum on the estate opposite who has had to walk her son past used condoms because people are having sex on the stairwell, there’s so much anti-social behaviour and nothing is done about it .

“You report it and hear nothing, but they’re happy to turn up on a Sunday morning to ask for £3 of rent that was outstanding.

“They’ve let tenants down and they’ve put their health at risk. What lengths are Swan prepared to go to before they listen to us?”

The tenants MyLondon spoke to also shared that an 84-year-old woman who lived above Marianne had been dealing with pigeons who had nested on her landing, leaving copious amounts of droppings in the entrance to her home, and the problem had not been fixed.

Kirsty, who has been spearheading the efforts to finally get living conditions on the estate improved said: “I’ve told Swan Housing Association that unless we get kitchens replaced ,pest control in place properly ie. the whole block is done, compensation for service charges and now compensation for people’s health then we’ll have to take it further.”

A spokesperson for Swan Housing Association said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by some residents about the cleanliness and upkeep of the Exmouth Estate and we have immediately taken action to put things right. We’re working closely with our residents to address these issues as quickly and fully as possible; this includes having met with a group of customers on site to discuss their concerns earlier this week.

“We have put in place a three-month plan starting next week, to address these customers’ concerns, as well as arranging a weekly drop-in session every Tuesday for residents so they can speak to a manager about any further concerns.”

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/east-london-news/east-london-estate-overrun-mice-24063594