Builders bother unfresh freshers

October 8, 1999

Freshers at the University of East London have a good excuse if they are less than fresh at the moment. Halls of residence on their flagship new Pounds 40 million docklands campus have an intermittent water supply, broken water heaters and no laundry facilities.

The student union is pressing for compensation of Pounds 128, the equivalent of two weeks' rent, for every student affected.

"It is a building site. We and the students who live there are disgusted with the service received from the university," said union president Emma Bedford.

The campus opened to 380 students three weeks ago. It is built on derelict land, which is intended to become a thriving commercial site including the country's largest exhibition centre and possibly a science park.

Beverley Johnson, a new technology and media and communications student, said:

"There hasn't been any heating in my room since I arrived on September 18. The shower water has been switching on and off, which has caused flooding [as students do not realise that they have left the taps on]."

Telephones have yet to be installed and the nearest pay phone is at the Docklands Light Railway station.

"A lot of students are young, they are away from home for the first time and they want to contact their families. But the path to the station is badly lit and unsafe," said Ms Bedford.

Emergency telephones for contacting campus security and the emergency services were installed in each hall this week.

However the university is still negotiating with the telephone service provider on other telephones. The laundry opened last week.

Students have also been complaining about the presence of contractors and other invasions of privacy. "Some girls have been in the shower when contractors have come into their rooms. There are no curtains and I live on the ground floor, so people can see in," said Ms Johnson.

A spokeswoman for the university admitted that there had been faults with electric water heaters, telephones and the launderette.

She said that contractors were now asked to make appointments in advance. The problem with the radiators was that students did not know how to operate the timer and the thermostat, she added.

"We had done everything we possibly could before the students moved in but the problem is that you don't know what the snags will be until you use the building," said the spokeswoman.

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