Old mattresses that can reach higher than The Shard are dumped on Tower Hamlets housing estates
PUBLISHED: 16:18 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:20 21 December 2017
© 2017 Justin Thomas
Thousands of smelly old mattresses are being dumped every year on Tower Hamlets housing estates in London’s East End.
Shocking figures reveal that 5,000 were discarded in the last 12 months alone, which would dwarf The Shard if piled one on top of another.
Caretakers at Tower Hamlets Homes, which manages 21,500 East End properties, have had to remove an average of 422 old mattresses every month over the past year.
Now the council’s housing organisation is threatening to crack down on people who use their estates as easy targets to throw away rubbish.
“It’s horrifying that this anti-social activity is happening,” Tower Hamlets deputy mayor Sirajul Islam said.
“We work to keep estates clean, so we’re calling on people to stop this disgusting practice. There’s no excuse other than laziness.”
Cllr Islam is pictured with just one week’s worth of mattress collections at a refuse storage area in Stepney Green, with two caretakers who are having to deal with the dumping every day.
The crisis has sparked an inquiry to find out why it’s happening and to appeal to landlords and households not to dump their old mattresses. The council offers to collect them free-of-charge by appointment.
The mattresses would reach 27,000 feet high if stacked on top of each other, the town hall has worked out. That’s three times the height of The Shard skyscraper in central London.
Tower Hamlets Homes, the management arm of the local authority, isn’t blaming its tenants, but rather pointing the finger at absentee landlords.
There are 10,000 leaseholds on its estates in addition to its social tenancy properties, the vast majority owned by non-residents who rent them out on the open market. Many rented homes are next to housing estates which has raised suspicions about who’s dumping.
A housing organisation spokesman said: “Evidence suggests these landlords simply clear out old mattresses when renters on short-term leases leave.
“Our caretakers get reports of people seen at night crossing the streets to dump mattresses on our estates that they don’t live on.”
The dumping is a safety hazard if mattresses block fire escape routes, the council points out. Parents worried about hygiene such as bed-bugs and fleas often won’t let children play outside.