Story: Douglas Johnson
On the night Jonathan Matondo was killed, it wasn’t the only shooting incident. Earlier that day, residents of Melrose Road heard shots being fired into the young people’s flats belonging to Arches Housing Association and managed by Stonham. Since then, all but one of the residents have been moved out, and the flats boarded up.
With a catalogue of incidents between July and October 2007, a new residents’ group has declared Stonham “not fit for purpose”. Occupants of the flats have also complained, one telling the Messenger they had been intimidated by those misusing one flat in the complex. Despite reporting this to Stonham and the police, nothing was done. Stonham continued their lack of support by refusing to help the resident with removals. “I asked them if I could have money for a taxi to move my stuff, they said no.”
The trouble seemed to stem from one resident being taken advantage of. Without support, young people started to gather in his flat. One said, “Everyone knew it was the Pitsmoor social room. I think he had learning disabilities or something – he was quite a bit older than me – but everyone just took the piss.”
Frontline workers at Stonham told the Messenger of the difficulty in trying to build trust while chasing tenants for rent – “you just can’t do this dual role”. Other staff complained of management bullying and undue pressure to work to targets: “working with young people, you need individual treatment. You can’t do the work because you’re told not to.”
The situation on Melrose Road exploded on 17th October 2007 when shots were fired. A few hours later, Jonathan Matondo was shot and killed in an incident that the police are treating as linked.
Arches remains tight-lipped about their plans. A spokesman said, “We are not currently in a position to give you information on the future of the Melrose flats or the previous occupants.”
Acknowledging the failure to deal with complaints earlier, a spokesman from Stonham said: “Stonham takes allegations like this seriously and we are investigating. We will be setting up a ‘Steering Group’ of people who have an interest. It’s vital that this includes people from the local community, so we’ll ask the Residents Association to nominate two or three people to represent them. It will agree and manage an action plan, which will address issues relating to the support provided by Stonham.”