More than 80 refuse to leave as tower blocks evacuated over cladding fears

More than 80 refuse to leave as tower blocks evacuated over cladding fears
Handout photo of people sitting on inflatable mattresses at a leisure centre and library complex in Swiss Cottage, after residents from the Chalcots Estate in Camden, London, were evacuated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire to allow "urgent fire safety works" to take place. PA.

More than 80 people have refused to leave their homes on a London estate during a mass evacuation launched over fire safety fears linked to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The occupants of around 650 properties on the Chalcots Estate in Camden complied with advice to leave five tower blocks after fire officers deemed them unsafe on Friday.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said if residents had not left their properties after being visited again by officials on Saturday, "it will become a matter for the fire service".

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: "We've had a huge effort overnight to evacuate people. We have had 650 households who have moved out of the tower blocks.

"We've had everyone - council staff, volunteers, different councillors - all coming together with the fire service to move people safely out of their accommodation."

Roger Evans, a resident of the Taplow block for the past three years, said he found out that his building was being evacuated after a friend saw it on the news and alerted him by text.

Residents of Chalcots Estate in Camden, London, are taken from the Swiss Cottage leisure centre to temporary accommodation after they were evacuated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire to allow 'urgent fire safety works' to take place. PA.
Residents of Chalcots Estate in Camden, London, are taken from the Swiss Cottage leisure centre to temporary accommodation after they were evacuated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire to allow "urgent fire safety works" to take place. PA.

The 51-year-old, who has so far refused to leave his first-floor flat, told the Press Association: "As far as I am concerned, nothing in that building has changed in the last few days, weeks, months or years.

"It was perfectly safe before, despite what they are saying now - I believe I am safe in there."

He said he is "keeping his options open" but for now will be staying put, adding: "There may be greater pressure for me to get out, but things are changing on an hour-by-hour basis."

Mr Evans said that, on top of the cladding, it has been discovered that the fire doors are not safe and secure, and alongside the padding around gas pipes, these "seem to be the area of concern" for the council.

Asked how he feels about why these issues have not been picked up before, he said: "It is very disconcerting it is only suddenly, now."

He said a few of his neighbours on his floor have also stayed in their homes and that people are generally feeling "very distressed".

PA

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