Home U.K Dad is last man standing in 'decaying' tower block marked for demolition

Dad is last man standing in 'decaying' tower block marked for demolition

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Birmingham: Resident speaks about Saxleby House tower block

Ezekiel Hermon has lived in Saxelby House, Birmingham, for 25 years but, for the past six months, he has been completely alone after the other residents were rehoused. The Labour-run council want to demolish the high rise to make way for new affordable homes.

The 46-year-old man has refused one-bed homes offered by Birmingham City Council as his children – aged 7, 8, 12 and 14 – split the time between his home and his ex-partner’s and he fears he won’t have enough space.

Mr Hermon has also been offered two-bedroom properties, reports Birmingham Live. However, he says they’re in high-rise tower blocks and for ‘people aged over 50’.

Rehousing from his block in Druids Heath, Birmingham, started in April 2019 and continued throughout the pandemic.

“I’m not over 50 and I’ve told them a high rise is not an option for me,” the dad said.

“You may say: ‘You’re in a high rise now, what’s wrong with another high rise?’

“The reason why these high rises are due to be demolished is because the council said they were not fit to live in. I’ve lived there for 25 years. I don’t want another after what I’ve been through.

“I couldn’t mentally live back in another high rise again. I’ve spent enough pain in here, being in here all alone. I’ve been through two lockdowns on my own in here, three lockdowns in total – two of them completely alone.”

Ezekiel Hermon is the last person in Saxleby House

Ezekiel Hermon is the last person in Saxleby House (Image: Birmingham Live)

Birmingham City Council says the case will now be taken to court, after Mr Hermon ‘sadly’ refused four offers for accommodation. 

Mr Hermon moved into the two-bedroom flat alone in 1995 and has worked extra shifts and overtime just to maintain the property. 

Now they have a girls’ bedroom and a boys’ bedroom – with the dad crashing on the sofa in the living room when his kids stay over.

But Mr Hermon fears if he has to take the offer of a one-bedroom property, their beds, clothes and toys will have to be thrown away.

He added: “I’ve worked so hard to get all this. Me and my partner might not be together, but these children are our world and we’re going to bring them up how we’re going to, split everything.

“When you’re thinking you’ve worked so hard to give them their own bedrooms here, I’ve got all their stuff, clothes and toys and everything.

“And I’m going to have to throw away their beds, their clothes, and dismiss them. “

Ezekiel Hermon has been living in empty tower block

Mr Hermon has been living in the empty tower block for months (Image: Birmingham Live)

As the only person in the block, Mr Hermon says he’s often terrified by the sound of banging doors from the empty flats.

His biggest fear is that someone could enter as he slept to ‘torch the building’.

The dad claims people go into the empty flats to ‘have a look, then they leave the balcony doors open and that’s what slams’.

“Or if they go into one of the levels, they unpadlock the metal gates – all of them are padlocked except mine. I hear them all night and all day.

“When my children come and stay with me I’m up all night because when you hear a door shut, or you hear a noise, you know that no one’s here.

“So either someone’s got in, or somebody could light a fire, or people come in and smoke, or you think somebody’s actually got in. I’m having to go down and listen.”

Saxelby House

Saxelby House is in Druids Heath, south Birmingham (Image: Birmingham Live)

The unemployed dad, who had a job as a trackman on the trainline before the pandemic, has watched around 100 people move from his block and surrounding blocks as part of the regeneration scheme.

“Everybody else has been rehoused except me, they’ve all been given what they need,” he said.

“There’s 100 people that’s been moved, rehoused while I’ve been stuck in here. It’s the ill-feeling of sitting here, so high up and watching them move another block out. I’m here on my own, it doesn’t make sense.

“You wouldn’t think anyone lives there with the way the flats look, they look decayed and rotten.

“Now they’ve blocked off the car park the flats look derelict, you wouldn’t think that when the doors open you see four young children coming out of here and walking up.

“It’s absolutely terrible in here, it’s horrible. It’s cold and damp.”

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “Mr Hermon in line with all the other tenants was offered alternative accommodation according to our Housing Allocation Scheme.

“Empty properties are advertised on a weekly cycle and tenants can bid for a suitable home when one becomes available. Tenants are offered two suitable places for alternative accommodation.

“All the other tenants have accepted alternative accommodation.”

The council said Mr Hermon had not placed any bids, despite “receiving help and encouragement from the council”. His case has, as a result, been taken to court.

The spokesman continued: “So in order to support him the council placed bids on his behalf. To date Mr Hermon has received four offers of alternative accommodation that consisted of one and two bedroom properties which have all sadly been refused.

“Mr Hermon’s case has been looked at by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman who supported the council in trying to find him alternative accommodation.

“The council regularly inspects Saxelby House to ensure empty flats are secured and the block remains safe. As we have not been able to secure alternative accommodation we have reluctantly had to take his case to court.

“We sympathise with the impact this is having on Mr Hermon’s well-being and we will continue to support him and work with him to find alternative accommodation.”



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