Last Monday and Tuesday the Holden House caretaker was out on both days cleaning the stairs. The normal cleaning day is Wednesday, but on the Monday he did the normal perfunctory routine with the mop and bucket of cold water. The next day he was accompanied by another guy in white overalls who watched while our guy used a plastic bristled broom to really scrub our filthy old stairs. This was the result:
The stairs didn't look much better, and the caretaker was unable to get to the areas between the bannister uprights with his six inch broom. Also, having worked up a bit of a dirty lather, much of it was spread to the unpainted concrete surfaces of the balconies, which are now quite badly stained on all floors.
The dirty lather also dripped down the sides and stained the paintwork there.
Today, more caretaking operatives were working on the stairs, attempting to clean the areas between the bannister uprights. They were at it all day and I spoke to one of the guys, Jim, who explained that first they were using a scrubbing brush with a special cleaner that would lift the dirt.
Then another guy was a couple of flights behind him with a vacuum cleaner...
Both were critical of the surface, which was laid over ten years ago. Jim suggested it was Health & Safety gone mad that had led to a paint surface mixed with grit to prevent slipping. Such a surface was impossible to keep clean, he said, and he thought the best thing to do would be to remove it, but he wasn't sure how. He later set about some already chipped areas with a knife and removed quite a bit from the first mezzanine landing, in an attempt to see how easily it might come off.
I suggested that their cleaning operation was just a precurser to the stairs being painted again because last October Leasehold Services told us they wanted to trial a new paint surface, but we'd said the stairs were too filthy to take any sort of paint...(they didn't go ahead with it and actually blamed us for holding them up). He said he'd seen some new paint surfaces over at Honor Oak and that they were no better and would not last. But he knew nothing of any plans to paint our stairs.
This exercise, which is apparently going to be done on all the blocks that have painted stairs, must surely be in advance of the AUDIT COMMISSION's visit next month, when Lewisham Homes will be tested on whether they have done enough to qualify for Decent Homes government money – if any is still available.