Residents 'shock' after council turfed them out of unsafe tower block
Residents tell of ‘shock and panic’ after council turfed them out of unsafe tower block with no idea when it will be safe to return
- Residents have been left shocked and panicked after being told to leave homes
- Bristol City Council said it asked tenants to leave ‘as a precautionary measure’
Residents living in a tower block in Bristol have told of their ‘shock and panic’ after they were told to leave their homes after structural problems were uncovered.
Around 400 people living in Barton House on Cotton Mill Lane were asked to leave their homes immediately on Tuesday evening after surveys found there was a ‘risk to the structure’ of the 15-storey building in the event of a fire, explosion or large impact.
Bristol City Council said tenants were asked to leave ‘as a precautionary measure’ while more in-depth inspections are carried out.
Anyone who could stay with relatives or friends were being urged to do so ‘for a short period of time’.
Others residents were housed in a temporary rest centre at the Tawfiq Masjid & Centre mosque, where beds, food and drink were made available.
But residents say they have been left panicked by the decision and unsure as to when it will be safe to return to their homes.
Around 400 people living in Barton House on Cotton Mill Lane were asked to leave their homes immediately on Tuesday evening
Surveys found there was a ‘risk to the structure’ of the 15-storey building in the event of a fire, explosion or lage impact
Khalil Abdi, of Bristol Horn Youth Concern, said: ‘It is shock and panic, people finished work, picked up their children then they got the news from the media.
‘The whole area is shocked, not only this building. I saw people having panic attacks, falling on the floor. It was very difficult for the residents and the community.
‘The work the council need to do today is to provide information – how long are people going to be away from their homes? How long are they going to be in temporary accommodation? They need assurances.’
He added that families with children or those who were vulnerable were placed in hotels last night, and single people were placed in City Hall. Some families, he said, chose to stay in Barton House as they felt they did not have enough information to leave.
‘People have been here for a long time,’ he said. ‘Some people have been here since they came to this country and are attached to this building.’
Resident Nur Sharif, 42, is one of a family of four who had been placed in a single hotel room.
He said babies were among those evacuated from the flats and that their mothers, some who had recently given birth, were ‘struggling’.
‘I am really, really upset’, he said. ‘I found out last night, I was working and my missus gave me a call.
Yesterday, the council said there is ‘no evidence’ that the issues affecting the block of flats, which was built in 1958, are present elsewhere in the estate
Residents were told they had to leave their homes on Tuesday evening as a precaution
Anyone who could stay with relatives or friends were being urged to do so ‘for a short period of time’
Up to 400 residents of a Bristol tower block were forced to evacuate last night
‘She said ‘you need to come quickly’. They said we had to move out quickly, we didn’t even have 24 hours.’
He said he and his family will not return to their home permanently if allowed adding that ‘no one feels safe’.
‘Imagine someone tells you that you have to move out’, he added. ‘How can we come back?’
Another resident, Ray Gregory, described the evacuation on Tuesday as ‘total chaos’.
‘There was no forewarning, nothing’, he said. ‘It is stressful. We need to know what’s happening. I haven’t had any information sent to me, all I know is what’s on the news.
‘I don’t understand the urgency. It could have been done in a much better manner. It was total chaos yesterday, absolutely chaos – there were kids in pyjamas in the car park.
‘I’m really disappointed. I want to know what’s happening. Have I got a home? Is it still going to be here? If it isn’t, where do I go?’
Speaking to BBC Radio Bristol, councillor Kye Dudd, cabinet member for housing services and energy at Bristol City Council, said the emergency response was based on information provided by the structural engineer and fire brigade.
‘(The fire brigade) changed their operational notes to crews that would attend and given the way they changed their advice to crews that would potentially attend a fire (at Barton House) that told us everything and we had to make that decision to evacuate the building’, he said.
Around 400 people, including an estimated 100 children, have been told to leave Barton House in Bristol immediately
Residents were pictured leaving their homes on Tuesday evening
Residents say they do not know when they will be able to return to their homes
According to a local councillor, the issue is due to concrete sections connected to the building’s supporting walls, which were built with dated design specifications
He added that the issue is due to concrete sections connected to the building’s supporting walls, which were built with dated design specifications. He said the structure poses a risk ‘in the event of a fire, blast of potential collision’ but is otherwise ‘OK’.
‘If the building was built to design, we wouldn’t have this problem so the issue was in the construction of the building and the job that was done at the time,’ he added
‘But given that we had five fires in high-rise blocks last year in terms of the level of risk that’s just unacceptable’.
Yesterday, the council said there is ‘no evidence’ that the issues affecting the block of flats, which was built in 1958, are present elsewhere in the estate.
A council spokesman said: ‘The length of this temporary arrangement is dependent on a further survey of the building, which is being arranged to happen as soon as possible.
‘All tenants will be kept regularly informed of progress and any updates on support arrangements.
‘The cautious approach being taken to Barton House is to ensure that no unnecessary risk is taken with the wellbeing of those who live there.
‘No evidence has been presented to suggest there is any immediate risk to health and life.’
A spokeswoman for Avon Fire and Rescue confirmed they have been working with the council following the survey.
‘We have been liaising with Bristol City Council following a recent building survey conducted on Barton House’, she said.
‘As a precautionary measure and to allow for further, more in-depth surveys, residents in the block are being asked to leave immediately.
‘The approach the council are taking as responsible persons of the building is appropriate and proportional. We are in support of this to ensure that residents are kept safe.’
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