Tower blocks residents told of collapse risk

Hundreds of residents have had the gas supply to their high-rise flats cut off after tests found the blocks are at risk of collapsing.

Following concerns raised by residents in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster, inspectors found cracks in the walls at Ledbury Towers, south London, left the blocks vulnerable if a gas explosion occurred.

“Strengthening” work was ordered on the estate after a gas explosion caused the partial collapse of Ronan Point, Newham, in 1968 – killing four people.

However, inspectors say this work “may not have occurred”.

Required work on Ledbury Towers 'may not have happened', Southwark Council says
Image: Required work on Ledbury Towers ‘may not have happened’, Southwark Council says

Southwark Council said it was “not willing to take any risks” and will move out residents in 242 flats “over the coming weeks and months”.

The authority is considering plans to permanently replace gas appliances with electric ones, and in the meantime is supplying hotplates and electric water heaters.

Deputy leader Stephanie Cryan described the measures as a “short term fix to a longer term problem”.

“We feel that with the gas supply shut off it is safe for people to stay if they wish to,” she told Sky News.

“If people wish to move we will accommodate that for them.”

A resident fits his hand in one of the cracks in his flat
Image: A resident fits his hand in one of the cracks in his flat

Southwark Council said it initially hoped to fix the cracks while residents remained in their homes, but inspectors’ findings “means we are now planning to temporarily decant the blocks”.

Alternative accommodation may need to be provided if the process to provide alternative power for the buildings takes too long, it added.

Vaunda and Steve Hill, who live in Ledbury’s Peterchurch block, told Sky News they were angry about the council’s handling of the issue.

“This wasn’t done off the council’s back, it was because one resident kicked up a stir over it,” Mrs Hill said.

Rescue workers search debris after the collapse of a complete corner of Ronan Point, a 22 storey block of flats at Canning Town in the east End of London
Image: Four people were killed in the partial collapse of Ronan Point

“Her and her husband brought in independent fire experts and surveyors to give the council an idea of the severity.

“All they were doing was filling in the cracks and you’re left to deal with it”.

The Department for Local Government said was working with Southwark Council and “stands ready if they need any further government support”.

It added: “On such critical safety issues, we encourage local authorities and landlords to act upon the advice of experts and local fire authorities.”

Source: skynews

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