Last night Camden Council asked residents from Taplow tower block, just one of the five towers that make up Chalcots Estate, to evacuate following advice from fire services.
In my previous blog post Cladding, Camden and Questions I wrote about what was discussed at the residents meeting on Thursday night. Camden Council tried to make it very clear that residents were not at any immediate risk; ‘the cladding is different’ and they will do everything they can to work with residents moving forward to make them feel safe in their homes.
The scene last night outside Taplow tower was one of confusion and fear. The media presence added to the chaotic atmosphere especially as residents were only hearing about the evacuation from news outlets. Camden Councillor Georgia Gould, who became leader of the council earlier this year, made the decision to evacuate the building as internal checks of the tower earlier that day were not satisfactory. This was confirmed by another Camden councilor who was also at the residents meeting.
Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre acted as home for the night for hundreds of residents who had to sleep shoulder to shoulder on blow up beds with just a thin sheet. There were many families with young children, elderly residents and disabled residents among those told to leave. Pet owners were seen trying to calm their animals – especially dogs due to the flashing bulbs from cameras and crowds.
At time of writing, there have been 700 homes evacuated with 83 people refusing to leave saying this is a ‘knee-jerk reaction from the council’. One resident in Burnham tower block spoke to me exclusively last night;
‘The council will need a court order to remove me. I own my property. They’re just advising people to go to friends – it’s a cop out. They’re trying to move us out with nowhere to go.’
The anger this particular resident feels is felt throughout all five towers that make up the Chalcots Estate. Many were understandably unhappy with the sleeping arrangements as they have health issues and also felt that it was too sudden – the council should have organised this better. It has been confirmed by the council this morning that there are 270 secured rooms with many accepting people with animals.
BBC News interviewed Cllr Georgia Gould in the last 45 minutes (current time 10:50am) and asked how she was planning to fund the evacuation and rehousing of the five towers – Ms Gould responded; ‘We do not know right now. We just had to act. Resident safety was the priority not the cost.’ it is understood Camden council will be working with the government to organise funds.
This story is currently developing and I will be on the ground today collecting information. I will not be updating this post but will instead write an additional post so please keep checking my website and twitter for updates.
*I do not own the featured image. Source: www.standard.co.uk