‘Disbelief’: Pitcairn House resident left unprotected after asbestos was found in her ceiling

The ceiling where asbestos was found has been replastered three times in three years. Photograph: Maya Sall

A woman living on a problem-ridden council estate has voiced her frustration at how Hackney Council carried out the removal of asbestos from her ceiling.

The Pitcairn House resident, who did not want to be named, told the Citizen that she was in “disbelief” when workers came into her flat to treat the asbestos wearing full protective gear, but nothing was offered to her or her family.

The possibility of asbestos was raised when a plasterer came to repair her living room ceiling, which had been damaged by a leak.

Leaks were one of the many issues discussed when Town Hall chief executive Dawn Carter-McDonald was taken on a tour of Pitcairn House by residents this week.

“The plasterer didn’t mention anything about asbestos to me, he just refused to do the work and left,” the woman said.

“It took me ringing the council to even find out that they were going to be carrying out tests for asbestos.”

She told the Citizen that she asked for the room in question to be sealed off while the checks were being carried out, but despite the council agreeing to do so, this was never done.

The affected area was covered three days prior to the asbestos treatment being carried out, and the resident said she was not offered alternative accommodation during the process.

“I work in facilities, I know about correct asbestos procedure, and I want to know if the council has a policy on possible asbestos discovery and if it was followed in this case.”

The Citizen put this question to the council, but it declined to answer.

Instead, a spokesperson said: “The council takes its responsibilities regarding asbestos extremely seriously.

“Its extensive use means that there are still many buildings which contain asbestos.

“Asbestos only presents a risk when it is disturbed or damaged.

“We inform residents where we know there is asbestos and what we are doing to manage it.”

The resident said that this was the third time in three years that her ceiling had been repaired due to water damage, “which makes me think that the asbestos has been disturbed for a long time”.

“I caught my granddaughter playing tea parties with the water that was leaking – now I know that was asbestos water,” she continued.

The Citizen asked Hackney Council if plasterers who previously worked on the ceiling would be notified of their possible exposure to asbestos, but it declined to comment.