Grenfell Tower: Dozens of angry residents refuse to leave Camden estate evacuated over fire fears

Camden Council leader, Georgia Gould, says firefighters 'could not guarantee our residents' safety'

Saturday 24 June 2017 10:00
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Residents evacuate Chalcots Estate tower blocks in Camden, London, Britain, 23 June 2017
Residents evacuate Chalcots Estate tower blocks in Camden, London, Britain, 23 June 2017

A total of 83 households refused to leave their homes after Camden residents were evacuated amid safety fears.

Approximately 4,000 people have been displaced after 650 households were told to leave the Chalcots estate after firefighters said they "could not guarantee our residents' safety", Council leader Georgia Gould said.

The council said it was booking hotels for residents but around 100 people had to spend the night on air beds in a leisure centre.

Lauren Mitchell, a resident, said people were told if they chose not to leave their homes the police would be informed.

“We asked the council, 'what if we don't leave?' And they said we will have the police round to 'forcibly remove you from your flat within an hour’,” Ms Mitchell told the BBC.

Ms Gould, the council leader, visited the Swiss Cottage rest centre, where many residents spent the night, to listen to any concerns people had.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster she said “urgent fire safety work” would now take place on the five high-rise buildings but residents have raised concerns about the handling of the situation.

Inflatable mattresses set up at a leisure centre and library complex in Swiss Cottage (PA)

Chalcots resident Shirley Philips who raised her concerns to Ms Gould said she was given no notice before being told she must leave her home.

“I think it's absolutely disgusting. We've had the fire brigade all day, Camden Council, police. I had a fire safety check done today,” she told Sky News.

“Why have they left it till half past eight on Friday night to start getting residents out? Where do they think we're all going?"

Residents evacuate Chalcots Estate tower blocks in Camden

Teacher Kim Price, who lives in one of the towers with her 14-year-old son, said as late as 4pm residents were told it was safe for them to stay in their homes.

"I really don't know what to do, I'm so scared right now. The news has said 'get out now' but the authorities have said 'stay put',” Ms Price said.

"But why now? At 4pm today they said it would be okay and that all the checks were fine. And now all of a sudden the news is saying we should get out.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was in contact with the council and the emergency services about the situation.

"There is a particular set of circumstances on this estate that make this necessary, which has been identified following good work between Camden Council and the London Fire Brigade,” Mr Khan said.

"Fire safety checks are ongoing at other estates across the UK."

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