Sister blasts council over report into Surbiton man's death
The sister of a mentally-ill Surbiton man who killed himself by setting fire to his flat has blasted Kingston Council for sitting on a report into her brother’s death.
Council chiefs told Gillian Hall they would review mental health strategy for housing support officers following an inquest into the death of her bipolar brother Kevin on April 1, 2011.
Mr Hall, 57, caused an explosion when he set fire to himself in his flat in St Andrew’s Road, having failed to turn up to an eviction hearing and telling social workers he “no longer had the will to fight”.
At an inquest in February, coroner Elizabeth Pygott recorded a verdict of suicide, but Miss Hall claimed her brother was failed by housing workers, who she believed were not properly trained to deal with his mental health problems.
Despite promising an investigation, until last week the council insisted no review had been carried out.
But on Thursday a spokesman admitted a review had in fact been carried out to see if “lessons could be learned”.
Miss Hall said: “Without the persistence of the Kingston Guardian they would never have bothered to answer questions about my brother’s death.
“After the promises made, surely once a review had been carried out they have a responsibility to contact the family but we have heard nothing.
“It is clear the council’s hand has been forced to admit a review has been carried out but still they refuse to let us see it.
“Council employees should have training to deal with tenants with mental health issues and a mediation service should be offered where difficulties arise in housing and neighbour relations.
“Every year many vulnerable people become homeless due to these issues.
“My brother chose to take his life instead.”
A Kingston Council spokesman said: “Following this tragedy, Kingston Council has been actively co-operating with South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust in its serious incident review to identify how local professionals and organisations can improve the way they work together.
“Kingston Council has also carried out its own review of its housing support to consider any lessons which could be learned.”