Video: Inside the Leeds flats without water for a week

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ENVIRONMENTAL health officers will carry out an inspection today at a Leeds apartments complex to assess if it is still fit for residents who have been without running water for six days.

The inspectors from Leeds Council will be assessing concerns raised by the tenants and owners of 335 apartments who are having to use a standpipe outside to fill buckets of water and portable toilets.

Resident Luke Saunders, 20, collects water for washing up

Resident Luke Saunders, 20, collects water for washing up

Plumbers will also return to the 14-storey development in an attempt to find a solution to the damaged piping which initially saw the water supply severed to the apartments last Wednesday.

Efforts to make a repair on Saturday failed and those living at the block fear it could be Friday before supplies are restored. Some have already moved out to stay at hotels, or with family and friends.

A lunchtime meeting held yesterday in the Toast bar, which is one of the businesses on the ground floor, saw rental residents swapping notes on whether their tenancy agreements entitled them to refunds on rent and resolved to take advice.

Among those who attended was Joe Hurd, 25, a development manager for a media company.

“I will be speaking to my letting agent in the morning,” he said last night. “A lot depends on the health and safety check. I spoke to the directors of a housing group who said if it was them, they would close it on hygiene and sanitation grounds.

“Realistically, if we have water back by Friday, I will be impressed. It’s going to take a couple of days to fit a new part, and the adhesive has to set, and then they have to test the pressure again. It’s not healthy to be here any more. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Like others who have already moved out, Mr Hurd said he would go to a hotel if the water cannot be restored, keeping receipts for the management group Mainstay, or his letting agent.

“If they don’t pay, I will be getting lawyers involved,” he added.

The problems arose last week when a hairline crack in a main riser into the four-block complex turned into a five-inch hole last Wednesday morning, severing supplies and causing a flood.

It took until Friday for workmen to get the parts for a repair and until Saturday before the glued joints were dry. Another part of the system blew an hour after the repressurising started, however, and because the engineers had no parts to fix that, they had to shut off supplies again.

Anne-Marie Mackin, an environmental consultant who lives in the flats, asked at yesterday’s meeting: “What will prevent this happening again? Are they going to get some of these pipe sections and keep them in the yard?”

Another resident reported rumours there had been a similar problem shortly after the flats opened for business, in 2007.

Mainstay’s only statement yesterday was an email passing on a Leeds Council offer to allow West Point residents free access to the showers in Leeds-run leisure centres.

One tenant responded: “It’s a kind offer but the nearest one to here is Armley, which is a long way for a shower.”

Residents say their main concern is their toilets, which they can only flush by carrying water from ground level in buckets. They are also concerned about hundreds of people sharing lifts without them being able to wash their hands properly.

The Leeds Council spokeswoman said: “We will be conducting an environmental health inspection on Tuesday to establish whether there are any potential issues. It is the responsibility of the owners to ensure residents have proper alternative facilities in place. However, we contacted them to offer advice and support.”

Yorkshire Water says the problem occurred beyond where its network responsibility ends but added it had sent engineers, as a gesture of goodwill, but they were unable to help.

A spokesman for the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers, chief executive Kevin Wellman, said plastic pipework would normally have a long guarantee and he did not think the West Point experience was a common one.

But he added: “Questions will obviously be asked about whether this system was properly installed and tested.”

Some of the apartments are owner-occupied but most are rented, for between £600 and £1,000-plus a month. Occupants include couples, sharing friends and families with children, but most are young singles.

“Until all this happened it was a great place to live,” said one.

chris.benfield@ypn.co.uk