‘I’m scared to go into my own flat’: Resident’s shocking snapshot of life in troubled Northampton social flats

Overslade House
Overslade House

Shouting until 4am, a car park strewn with beer can laden shopping trollies and youths who patrol the forecourt on motorbikes - just some of the issues residents of a social housing block in Northampton have to deal with every day.

A new resident of Overslade House in East Hunsbury has become the latest to complain about the known anti-social behaviour spot, after he moved in there last week.

Liam Walmsley, 20, had been declared homeless following a string of personal difficulties, but to his initial delight Northampton Partnership Homes found him a “studio flat” at the East Hunsbury block of flats to live within one day.

At first it seemed too good to be true, the 20-year-old said.

But Mr Walmsley now says he cannot bring himself to stay there after spending only one restless night in the bedsit.

He said: “It needs closing down, it’s unsafe, it’s a mess.

“You can’t live there.”

When the Chronicle and Echo made enquiries into Overslade House last year, police confirmed the area was a known crime hotspot.

Sergeant Nick Paul of the Northampton South West Safer Community Team, said in 2014: “We are aware of the anti-social behaviour issues around Overslade House and have been working with Northampton Borough Council and local residents to address it.

“We are now working with the council and residents to look at how we can reduce the opportunities for people to congregate in the area, which is having an impact on the quality of life of others living nearby.”

But Mr Walmsley claims he only took on the bedsit as he was assured by housing officers there was no crime in the area.

Yet one look at the Police UK website shows a map of Overslade close with a marker directly over the flats.

It states in the past 12 months alone there have been nine reported anti-social behaviour incidents, three bicycle thefts, six burglaries, seven criminal damage and arson matters as well as four violence and sexual offences.

When the Chron investigated problems at Overslade House last year, a resident, who did not wish to be named through fear of recriminations, said much of the issue related to a core of people who were causing the trouble at the flats, by loitering in the car park area and intimidating other residents.

Mr Walmsley’s observation from last week shows little has changed since then.

“I stayed there for one night and I couldn’t do another,” he said.

“There was banging, there was a lot of door slamming, there was someone jumping and running around.

“These people, they sit out there from about 12 until three or four in the morning every day, right by the front door. It’s so intimidating to go into the front door.

“As for the state of the car park, oh my God. There are trolleys full of empty beer cans, empty bottles, carrier bags full of rubbish just strewn around.

“I’m scared to go into my own flat.”

Now Mr Walmsley, who is looking for work and currently staying at a friend’s in Northampton, is desperate to move.

However he fears he might have to wait a long time as, having accepted the first accommodation offered to him, he is no longer classed as a high priority case.

“If I hadn’t have taken that property I could have gone back on the waiting list for something else,” he said. “Now I’m stuck in this situation and my only option is to try the private market, which I can’t afford right now.”

Northampton Partnership Homes said it is aware of the situation at Overslade House and is happy to work with Mr Walmsley to find a solution.

Executive director of housing management, Shirley Davies, said: “Liam has been in touch and we are aware of the issues he is currently experiencing. We are working on putting a solution in place for Liam to support him at this time. We will also be considering how we manage Overslade House in the future.

“We are also working very closely with the police and the council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Unit to tackle anti-social behaviour at the block of flats. We would encourage anyone who lives at Overslade House to get in touch with their Housing Officer, Pippa Grainger on 0300 330 7003 to make any reports directly.”