Taps run cold af­ter pipe bursts

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Pia Hook­way

BROWN­LIE Tow­ers went 24 hours with­out hot wa­ter af­ter a wa­ter pipe burst, say angry res­i­dents.

Sylvia Bran­dis, pres­i­dent of the Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion, said she spent many of those hours on the phone to the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity, try­ing to get it fixed.

She was told the prob­lem could take 24 hours to rec­tify af­ter the com­plaint had been lodged.

The wa­ter had been shut off in the 300-unit build­ings, within the Vic­to­ria Park elec­torate, the day be­fore, af­ter a wa­ter pipe burst un­der a path in the com­mu­nal area.

But when the wa­ter was turned on again, it only ran cold.

Ms Bran­dis and as­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Lor­raine Chalon lamented the lack of up­grades to the build­ings be­yond cos­metic im­prove­ments.

In the al­most 11 years since the Bent­ley Re­gen­er­a­tion project was an­nounced, the res­i­dents have been wait­ing in in­creas­ingly sparse sur­rounds.

Ameni­ties have been de­mol­ished and they say the prom­ise of new fa­cil­i­ties re­mains just that – only a prom­ise.

“We want ac­tion and we want hon­esty,” said Ms Chalon, who moved in to Brown­lie Tow­ers in 1995. “I’ve been here 26 years, and there have been a lot of changes.

“Brown­lie Tow­ers has had its ups and downs – 80 per cent for the good and as the years go by it is get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter.”

When she first ar­rived, the then-nick­named “sui­cide tow­ers” was an­other world; Ms Chalon wit­nessed peo­ple jumping from the up­per lev­els to their deaths and other days she would see bod­ies on the pave­ment in the morn­ing when she left to start her day.

“It is so much bet­ter now, from 2004 I have felt very safe here,” she said.

The prob­lems have by no means been erad­i­cated; youths ride dirt bikes on the prop­erty at night and squat­ters have moved into the com­plex, she said.

Re­cently a man had set up home in a stair­well. His mother had been a res­i­dent there but he stayed on even af­ter she left.

“It was scary some­times when he’d take drugs and dance in the com­mu­nal ar­eas. But he has gone now,” Ms Chalon said.

The so­cial prob­lems are far less pro­lific than they once were, thank­fully, be­cause to Ms Bran­dis and Ms Chalon, Brown­lie Tow­ers is their home.

The slow progress of the Bent­ley Re­gen­er­a­tion Project has taken its toll on the pair, who want to make their home so­cial, dy­namic and in­clu­sive.

Ms Chalon said the strip­ping of ameni­ties had iso­lated older ten­ants as shops and ser­vices shut down.

Ac­cord­ing to Hous­ing act­inggen­eral man­ager of ser­vice de­liv­ery Trevor Gregory, hot wa­ter was re­stored at Brown­lie Tow­ers on Jan­uary 24, the day the out­age was re­ported.

“It ap­pears that the hot wa­ter sys­tem was ac­ci­den­tally turned off when plumb­ing works were un­der­taken on Mon­day, 23 Jan­uary,” he said.

The spokesman said any ten­ant who re­ported on­go­ing plumb­ing is­sues could re­quest a trans­ferred to dif­fer­ent ac­com­mo­da­tion and the Bent­ley Re­gen­er­a­tion would con­tinue around the 121 oc­cu­pied units of Brown­lie Tow­ers. “The Hous­ing Au­thor­ity is con­sid­er­ing the op­ti­mum ap­proach for the fu­ture of Brown­lie Tow­ers and the over­all Bent­ley Re­gen­er­a­tion area,” Mr Gregory said.

Mean­while, Ms Chalon said: “I want what they promised. We would love to see what was promised.

“I would love to see the shop­ping cen­tre for all the res­i­dents who can hardly walk.

“They’ve changed the re­gen­er­a­tion sign about five times. It al­ways looks good but we don’t care about the sign – we want ac­tion.”

Lor­raine Chalon and Sylvia Bran­dis. Inset top: the foot­path where the wa­ter pipe burst. Inset bot­tom: the now-closed of­fice where ten­ants went to learn about the Bent­ley Re­gen­er­a­tion.

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