Squatters Make Stink in Communal Alleyway

Tote Bookmakers on Churchfield Road becomes a problem for neighbours

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Arun Taank called us to look at something this week which we rather wish we hadn't seen. It was a sight so disgusting that we found we were unable to look at it, let alone photograph it. His son Nish photographed it for us, but re-sizing the photograph in order to put it on this page would put us off eating for several weeks.

Mr Taank, who used to run Churchfield Road's much-loved and much-missed post office, still owns properties on the road. His son, Nish, now runs a busy dry-cleaning and cleaning accessories business next door to where the post office used to be. An alleyway runs along the back of all the shops in the block.

The entire property on the corner of Cowper Road, next to the former post office, is - according to Mr Taank - owned by Tote. The Bookmakers' shop is on the ground floor and the upper floors appear to have fallen into disrepair. Mr Taank says squatters have moved into the vacant and dilapidated property and, since they have no facilities, they are using the aforementioned alleyway as a lavatory.

Mr Taank told us he has contacted the local police, the relevant department at Ealing Council and local councillors for Acton Central. So far, all he can establish is that someone will contact him from Ealing Council "to let me know which officer is dealing with the matter." The Council has known about this situation since last week, but no one has been in touch yet.

He has also talked to the manager of Tote who says the problem has to be dealt with by "Head Office". He left a message with the property maintenance department who have not called him back. "Now there is more and more stuff outside the back of the shop," he said.

Nish told us: "We are baking in here. Drycleaners need to air their shops regularly and at the moment the terrible smell makes it impossible for us to open a window or door. It is absolutely revolting."

Mr Taank said: "If you have to look at that every day it puts you off your evening meal."

Today, Mr Taank took matters into his own hands. He has asked his builder to come and help him to clear up the mess by covering the whole area with sand, removing all the human waste, shovelling it away and then washing and disinfecting the whole area. He hopes this will be done later today or tomorrow.

He also confronted the men who were squatting above Tote. "They were three Polish guys. They asked me not to call the Police. They then grabbed their stuff, jumped over the fence and left - we hope for good."

At his own expense, Mr Taank also intends to board up the squatted premises.

He told us: "I think this situation is beyond disgusting. Apparently, we are not the only ones to complain. As you reach the corner of Churchfield Road where the alleyway meets Cowper Road the smell is appalling.

"It is incomprehensible to me why Tote would allow a property which could be let and bring in quite a bit of money every month, to fall into such disrepair. They seem not to care."

Whatever the reason, the Taanks hope that things will soon be more fragrant and that Nish, and anyone else who has the misfortune to live or work near this problematic alleyway, will soon be rid of this unhygienic stink. They also hope to receive help and advice from their local council.

Tote have been contacted for their comments.

A Council spokesman said: "This situation is totally unacceptable. We will visit the site this week and contact the property owner.

"If necessary we will serve the owner with an enforcement notice requiring them to secure the building to ensure squatters cannot return. If the owner fails to act on the enforcement notice we will secure the building ourselves and seek to recover our costs from the owner."



March 11, 2010